D700 vs. D800 for smaller prints.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by raczoliver, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. When I was
    shooting film,
    I was amazed
    by medium
    format the
    moment I
    first print
    from a 6×6
    even though
    it was only a
    10×12 inch
    print. Many
    people keep
    format has
    no use unless
    you go above
    such and
    such size, but
    I think they
    have serious
    with their
    eyes. The
    between 6×6
    and 35mm
    film is so
    obvious at
    any print size,
    it's not even

    I still can't
    make up my
    whether to
    get a D700 or
    because I
    don't know if
    digital works
    the same
    way. Is there
    advantage to
    having more
    pixels to start
    with if my
    final output
    size is such
    that the files
    from the
    D700 would
    not have to
    be upscaled
    anyway when
    printing at
    say 300dpi
    (so up to
    around 14"
    on the long
    side)? Do I
    get added
    colour depth,
    range, and
    just generally
    larger film
    formats if I
    the D800
    files? Does it
    make sense
    to get the
    800 over the
    700 if most
    of my prints
    will be
    inches, or
    does it only
    matter if I go
    above that? I
    do know
    about the
    high ISO
    but apart
    from that?
  2. I defy you to see the difference between an identical well-shot photo at 10 x 15 from those cameras at normal viewing distances.
  3. Same priciple. The D800 is vastly sharper than the D700. The D700 does not even take advantage of what your lenses are capable of, while the D800 will pull everything it can from them. So, not only is it pure pixel density but also maximizing resolution from the lenses.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you even need to ask this question, it is very clear that you don't need a D800. I would say don't let NAS take over your purchase decision.
    I have been using a D700 and a D800 (and now a D800E) almost as soon as they were available, respectively. It is actually the little things on that the D700 that bother me most: e.g. the non-100% viewfinder, lack of dual memory cards CF + SD, etc. Otherwise, the D700 is still a fine camera today and I continue to use it to avoid those huge 45M RAW files from the D800. Unless you have excellent shooting discipline, any sloppyness is more than enough to wipe out the differences between 12MP and 36MP.
    Can the average serious photographer use more than 12MP? Absolutely. That is why Canon has been producing ~21MP full-35mm-frame DSLRs. While I wouldn't trust the details of the rumors, especially pricing, it looks like Nikon will, some day, provide more FX options besides the D4 and D800/D800E. If you are not in a hurry, I would wait until Photokina (September 18) and see what else Nikon has to announce this summer/fall. That is only like two months away. (Of course, potentially, Nikon might not have any more new FX bodies to announce in 2012.) Otherwise, you can always get a used D700 in good condition to bridge you until more options are available, this year or perhaps next year.
  5. I dunno hey, I had a D700 and now the D800 from the day it came out....there is something pretty special about the D800s photos over the D700. I know I know everyone says they will be the same, but I don't think so. If you can afford it, I would go the D800 every time and it isn't just about the megapixels, recently i started shooting in live view for landscapes and WOW, try using live view on the D700 pffft it is crap. But then there is the high detail, the dynamic range...the D800 hands down, buy it you won't regret it!
  6. My D40 makes pretty swell 11x14s that hang on my walls. I notice no difference between it and my D200 at a viewing distance greater than 1' ...

    I imagine a D700 would be excessively good.
  7. Thanks for the responses so far. Shun, I appreciate your trying to help me make the right decision. I do think I have been resisting the NAS quite successfully so far, after all I have been using a D80, my very first DSLR, for six years now. However, I think you are assuming that I don't have shooting discipline because I lack theoretical understanding about digital image processing. Since I am an amateur, I don't "need" any camera per se, I want one because photography gives me joy, and I want to buy the tool that satisfies my desire to have those creamy looking pictures I used to get when I was using medium format film. Of course, I don't want to waste any money, so if you really think the D800 is not necessary for that, I honestly appreciate your advice.

    Did you mean that 20 or so megapixels on a full frame sensor would be a good compromise for having good image quality, yet being forgiving enough for slight user errors? I really don't want to wait any longer, because I have already been waiting for the D800 to come out for quite a while, and I want to be taking pictures instead of constantly waiting for the latest and greatest gizmos.

    I feel that if I go for the D700, I may be looking into an upgrade in another three-four years, while if I get the D800 now, it is likely that I will not want another camera until it breaks.

    I guess my question is more theoretical: assuming perfect photographer skills (I know I don't have those, but it's what I am aiming for), is it physically possible to see the difference between a 12mp print that was downsized from 36mp and one that was 12mp to begin with?
  8. The DSLR pictures all look the same to me so far. I do not see many prints from digital camera's however. People that I know just post to the web, flickr and such. Not many prints around to see.
  9. The idea that you need better photographic skills to get the most out of a high-res camera like the D800 is only true if you are always pixel peeping at 100%.
    Again... if you take the same great (and properly exposed) photo from a D800 and D700... and print them at 11 x 14 and hang them on a wall next to each other... who will see the difference? Seriously?
  10. Right now I'm going through the motions of comparing a 12mp body to a 24mp body. The differences in resolution would probably be more dramatic on an FX, rather than DX body, but I'm not sure that's true.

    While printing well-exposed, handled-with-care shots (with thoughtful post production work) at modest sizes (say, 12x18 and smaller), the differences between the two are going to be essentially meaningless for me, so far. Unless, that is, I have to crop after the fact. At which point, all bets are off. The extra resolution is quite handy, that way. I find myself more willing, with a higher-res sensor, to leave a bit more wiggle-room around my subject, the better to be able to print in different aspect ratios, etc.

    But if you're a slow-and-steady sort of photographer who's doing most of his post-production in advance (you know what I mean!), then some of those distinctions become pretty much non-issues unless you're going for very large prints.

    Your urge to procure a camera that you'll be using for several years, though, does change the priorities a bit.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The idea that you need better photographic skills to get the most out of a high-res camera like the D800 is only true if you are always pixel peeping at 100%.​
    Peter, I have hand held the D800 and D800E indoors at ISO 3200 with a 85mm/f1.8 lens at f2 or f2.8, 1/50 to 1/100 sec many many times. I get some slightly blurred images due to subject movement and/or camera vibration, and there is plenty of noise at high ISO to wipe out the fine details. In other words, a 36MP slightly unsharp image is not all that different from a 12MP slightly unsharp image. After down sampling, they can both produce a good JPEG that you can e-mail to friends. I have literally hundreds of such images from the D800. The D800 does have some advantages over the D700 at high ISO, after down sampling.
    If you want to take full advantage of 36MP, you need to use base ISO 100 or at most 200, set the camera on a tripod, use a shutter release cable (I tend to use the 1-second shutter delay instead as I would rather not bring an extra cable), get high-quality lenses and only use them around f5.6 or so ... and then pixel peep.
    Oliver, my ideal camera is more like a Nikon D4, with 16MP, that can capture 9, 10 frames/sec but in a smaller, more affordable package. IMO 16MP is more than enough, while the 4 frame/sec limition on the D800 makes it unsuitable in many situations, such as sports, wildlife (which I shoot a lot).
    BTW, since you have been using a D80, I wonder which lenses you are planning to use on the D700/D800? If I were you, I would spend more budget on some good lenses and accessories rather than on one 36MP camera body, which I am sure will depreciate quickly.
  12. Right now I am looking at the largest print I have ever made--a 58 inch print of a female lion taken in the Serengeti with a Nikon D 300s (a DX sensor) with a Nikon 500mm f 4.0 AFS II hand held on a bean bag from the roof of a Land Rover. The quality of the print is amazing. I attribute that quality to good long lens technique, excellent glass, excellent lighting, proper exposure and lastly the camera and its sensor size. I would first invest in good lenses, tripods and education and technique. Then the camera with the biggest sensor. I have not bought a D 800 yet in that I do not think I need it. I use a D 700 and a D 300s.
    Joe Smith
  13. I currently have the 24/2.8D, 50/1.8D, 85/1.8 (old, non-D version), and a Voigtlander 40/2.0. They are not the most recent lenses, I know, but not bad ones either. Whichever camera I end up getting, I am planning to buy a 24-120/4G and probably the 135/2DC. I am expecting to run into problems with the 24/2.8D on a D800, but I assume the others should hold up well.
  14. Oliver, maybe you can find the right answer yourself, and Rent those camera's one at a time ?
  15. With a properly made shot, you can certainly see the difference in sharpness at A4 and larger, but I usually pick the D700
    when I intend to make a lot of images which will result in small prints or no prints. For more ambitious work the D800 and
    D3X (in reasonably bright light) gets used.

    The key to seeing the increased sharpness is for me the use of high shutter speeds. With the D3X and D800 when I do
    people photography, my shutter speed is typically 1/1000s or faster, and I achieve that by using large apertures. I
    normally photograph people at f/1.4 to f/4 (most candid work and individual portraits) with f/5.6 and f/8 used only for group
    shots or in the studio with controlled background. I have no trouble seeing increased sharpness with 24/36 MP cameras
    over 12MP at any apertures that I use in the ISO100-400 window that I typically use for outdoor work. I use ISO 800-3200
    and even 6400 for indoor available light work but there I see little point in the higher resolution sensors and don't expect
    to see much in terms of increased sharpness simply because I am often limited in the shutter speed I can use in such
    contexts due to the low light. However, when motion blur doesn't severely limit the captures then increased sharpness is
    likely to be there, I just don't have much experience using high res sensors at high ISO. I don't plan on getting much as I
    don't see the point of wasting storage space on images that will not be printed large anyway. I have no doubt that the
    D800 has some advantage in IQ at high ISO also, but for me the cost of post-processing time and storage space is too
    high, so I intend to keep a 12 or 16 MP FX camera around for the next three to four years at least, after which I expect all
    new cameras to be high res and computers sufficiently advanced that it makes little diffrence what the file size is.

    Regarding 10x15 cm prints, it is reasonably safe to say that it makes little difference which FX DSLR you use. The D800
    and D700 have the same sensor size actually, but the D800 sensor is a more advanced design so it has lower noise
    especially at base ISO. From 5x7 inches up the D3X images show noticeably crispier rendition of fabrics, for example, but
    I can still happily use D700 images to make 12x18 inch prints, given that the subject is suitable. The D800 does bring out
    the best in even less perfect glass because of its high MTF. For example I am much happier with the 70-200II+TC-14EII
    when used with the D800 (stopped down to f/5.6) than I was before this camera. It brings this combination into the world
    of "good enough for me" while before I thought it was a bit so-so. On the other hand, I made the mistake of borrowing a
    VR 300/2.8 II last week. I used it for one evening and when I saw the results on my computer I went all gaga over it, and
    now I am anxious to get one. That dreamy bokeh and incredible sharpness! So while a high res camera will bring some
    less perfect lenses into the world of 'now it works ok' and 'hey I can live with that' it can also tempt you to spend an
    absurd amount of money on even better glass. Watch out. I think Nikon will make a killing on high priced lenses sold to
    D800 users.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Oliver, I wonder whether you want to buy an FX-format DSLR to begin with; perhaps a D7000 would serve you better. For making small prints, there is definitely no point to get 36MP, which can be a hinderance as apparently a lot of people are not aware of.
    Maybe this recent discussion on the Nature Forum can give you more ideas: http://www.photo.net/nature-photography-forum/00aSMF
    In particular, Justin Black teaches photo workshops; please click on his name to read his bio, and G Dan Mitchell is also a very established landscape photographer. Those two definitely know what they are talking about.
    I have the 24mm/f2.8 AF-D, whose optical design is dated back to the 1977 AI version of the 24mm/f2.8. It is still ok on the D700, but if you get any high-pixel-density DSLR, I would update that lens. My 50 and 85 are the AF-S versions. The 24-120mm/f4 is more for convenience rather than the absolute best optical quality, although it is quite sharp on the D800 also.
  17. Just to clarify, when I wrote 10×15, I meant inches :)
  18. Shun, if I am not mistaken, the D7000 has a slightly higher pixel density than the D800, so I don't see how it would be more forgiving against sloppy technique, while having less resolution. The D800 should produce similar results in DX crop mode (of course, that's not how I would be primarily using it).
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Oliver, the D7000 is far more forgiving because it costs $1100 instead of $3000. That will leave you $1900 for one expensive f2.8 zoom or 2, 3 very good lenses. Again, if you have just a tiny bit of unsharpness, 12MP, 16MP, 24MP and 36MP will give you essentially the same results, although 36MP will take up a lot more disk space.
    Disk drives are indeed cheap in these days, but at least I replicate all of my images onto 4, 5 different sets of hard drives and store them at different locations. Therefore, those large file still add up, and I quickly delete any D800 images that are not good to save space.
    But eventually it is your decision. If you can't be happy unless you have a D800, and you can't wait until September, I am afraid that there is only one camera (or two if you consider the D800E a separate model) that will satisfy you.
  20. Oh-oh, I was reading the message on a bus and somehow mistook the dimensions for cm - sorry! :) At 10x12 or 10x15 inches you can easily see differences between 12 and 36MP cameras in detail given appropriate technique, however at that size I would not see higher than 12MP "mandatory". Can see the difference? Yes. Makes or breaks the image? No. At 12x18 inches the D800 and D3X show an obvious advantage and if you were targeting that size then I would get the higher resolution camera.
  21. You can download good quality comparison images here:
    Print them out and compare/decide for yourself. The results are quite interesting.
    Based on testing I have done myself, I agree there is typically no advantage to getting a high megapixel camera for small prints, especially at the lower ISOs. But there are advantages to the newer, high megapixel cameras that add value to them as compared to older cameras. Along with the higher pixel count are improvements/enhancements that make them work better. If there is a specific feature (or several features) available on a newer body that you need that is/are not available on an older one, there would certainly be an advantage to getting it.
    "Do I get added sharpness, colour depth, dynamic range" Yes, but you may have to use exceptional technique to take full advantage of these attributes.
  22. Oliver,
    Everyone has made a big point of whether or not you'll see sharpness resolution from the D800 vs the D700. For me, I'm not worried about sharpness, 12MP is plenty sharp for me, what I am worried about is dynamic range, color reproduction, and if you are shooting at ISO 100 on the D800 vs ISO 200 on the D700 you'll see a huge improvement in high contrast situations with the D800 in all print sizes. I'm able to shoot people backlit by the sun, while still retaining 90% of the sky details and still retaining face details. It does require some post processing, but cameras like the D700 do not have the ability to capture such extreme contrast ratios, post processing or not, unless its an HDR. You'll see that kind of thing in any print sizes. Of course one could add a flash or other fill light or reposition your subject, but that's beside the point, the point is if you are shooting at ISO 100 on the D800 you are getting at least 2 stops of dynamic range above pretty much any other Nikon camera except the D7000 maybe the D3x. To me this is what makes the difference in prints and the reason to purchase the D800. Also its colors are much more vivid and accurate because there is more bit depth. Forget about sharpness, focus on the how to capture an image, and when I have two extra stops of dynamic range over the D700, that opens up all kinds of doors for me to capture an image that was previously not possible with the D700. Doesn't mean the D700 takes poor images, it means I have opportunities and new ways to capture images previously unavailable to me.
    To note of course, the D800 was optimized for shooting at ISO 100, as soon as you get to ISO 400, you basically loose all dynamic range\color advantages over other DSLRs, so if you plan on shooting at higher ISOs, the difference becomes negligible.
  23. The only time I've played with a D800, focusing in live-view was so-much better than my D700. As I didn't take the same pic on my D700, I can't compare the results, but they were pretty damn good.
    I wonder how the same shot taken with the D7000 compare to the higher res D3200?
    Pixel quality (esp Dynamic Range) and density are becoming the major issue here.... up to a 'certain size' it's not important......but with cropping being an option for lack-of-long-lens-length...it is!!
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    On a related note, I just noticed that Thom Hogan's D800 review is out: http://www.bythom.com/nikond800review.htm
    While I certainly do not agree with everything Thom writes, he has a lot of good points that should help the OP and others.
    Additionally, his D800 eBook is also available for US$29.99; in this case you just download it. It looks like Thom does not ship you a CD plus a printed booklet any more.
  25. Mike, according to the DXOMark site, the D7000 and D3200 should give basically the same results.
    Based on comparison images at DP review per the link I posted above, the do look pretty much the same.
  26. To those who write "If you even need to ask this question, it is very clear that you don't need it", this is the equivalent to the shopkeeper telling the prospective customer, "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."
    I believe that one can make a very thoughtful response to a person's questions without the gratuitous comments. I also believe in practicing the maxim that there is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid answers. Sometimes, the "stupid question" is the best question because it challenges assumptions we have relied upon that might in fact no longer be true. A great professor learns much from his students.
    This being said, I think this forum is much more civil than many others and it is one that I appreciate. Most commenters are indeed very civil, thoughtful and helpful.
  27. The DX format never really grew onto me, I only bought the D80 because at the time I could not continue developing my own film, but I have been waiting for FX to get affordable right from the beginning. That's why I never bought any DX lenses, but kept the ones I was using with my film cameras. I don't shoot wildlife and sports, so the tighter crop that the DX format offers is not really an advantage for me. I do mainly landscapes, informal portraits and cityscapes. Most of all, I am annoyed by the tiny and dark viewfinder of the D80, which at the time of its release was actually considered pretty good among DSLRs. My cheapo FE10 has ten times better viewfinder. Frame rate is really not important for me, it's nice if it's faster, but honestly, I'd even buy a camera with no continuous shooting mode if it was otherwise good. I am pretty sure I will even benefit from a camera that forces me to slow down and think more. I am not into taking a thousand photographs a day that are not good for anything. I actually want a camera that makes me feel like my Bronica SQ-A did, forcing me to make an effort, and getting the reward of great quality pics in return, even if that means using at least a monopod, but more likely a tripod any time it is possible. I am not sure the D800 is the only camera that will make me happy, but I'm pretty sure it's either that or the D700 now.

    A new camera may or may not be announced in September, if it is it will probably start shipping in November, and I may get my hands on one before Christmas. That's half a year from now, and it may not even be a camera that I like.

    I would like to rent both for a day or two, but I live in a rather remote town in northwestern China, and rental is not available here.
  28. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To those who write "If you even need to ask this question, it is very clear that you don't need it", this is the equivalent to the shopkeeper telling the prospective customer, "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."
    I believe that one can make a very thoughtful response to a person's questions without the gratuitous comments. I also believe in practicing the maxim that there is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid answers. Sometimes, the "stupid question" is the best question because it challenges assumptions we have relied upon that might in fact no longer be true. A great professor learns much from his students.​
    Robert Stark, I can see that you are not happy because I have given you a similar answer back in February on this thread you started: D800 or D4, zoom http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00ZzkE
    The fact of the matter is that both the D4 and D800 are designed for specific purposes. The D4 is a big time sports and news camera. For someone who does not shoot sports, the D4 doesn't seem to make much sense.
    OTOH, the D800 is designed for those who need to make huge prints such as landscape and certain studio work. It is a camera that should be used on a tripod with the best lenses at f4, f5.6, probably with manual focus via live view .... Do you have to use the D800 that way? Of course not, but if you don't, IMO you might as well get something with fewer pixels.
    To me, it is obvious from the beginning that Oliver does not need a D800 just like Robert didn't need a D4 back in February, and I pointed those out directly in the respective threads. By no means I was suggeting that those were "stupid" questions.
  29. Oliver
    If you are doing landscapes and cityscapes, and have found medium format to be a valuable way to go, I think you will see a big difference in even 10x15 from a D800 over a D700. I do a lot of architecture and always felt te D700 was a lot like 35mm or maybe 6x4.5. Based on just a few days with the D800e , it feels more like my SWC or a 6x9 level of quality. As I said - I think for photos with a lot of small detail, the differeences will be obvious and give you that "tactile" quality that MF seems to proivide.
    -Warren Williams
  30. If you have both a D4 and D800, you can cover just about any photographic situation very nicely. I also think either of them do a good job of 80% of subjects and situations. So in that sense they're not that specialized.
  31. The D800 is clearly a much better camera compared to the D700, probably in all aspects with the only exception in the frame rate. It also carries a few issues that I seriously take into account, like the enormous file sizes that ask for updated computers and more expense in storage devices.
    How much is it worth it? For someone who simply need/want the highest available image quality anywhere, the D800/D800E is a no brainer.
    For those who, even been serious about photography, know that a certain level of image quality is enough for their needs, there are several other options. Probably the cheapest/best ratio belong to the D700.
    I did the test, simply to check if the D800 was or not for me. I`m very used to the D700, so I think I can notice little differences between them.
    At base ISO, which is where I mostly shoot, I found the D800 better at 10x15" (@ 300ppp on the screen, not on a print), but the difference is negligible to my needs. I wonder if others could notice a big difference at a first sight. At higher ISO, downsampling increase that difference. And I sincerely think that there are -many- other interesting features, that could make it worth the expense.
    BTW, the difference between my small, medium and large film format prints are quite obvious, at any size.
    Check it by yourself in the pics below. The test was made for my own purposes, so it could or not work for others. Both shots were under exactly the same conditions, same settings on both cameras. I can easily know which one was made with the D800. Do you?
  32. One of the right, the more detail is apparent even in a relatively small size.
  33. Now, let`s tweak a couple parameters just a tiny bit...
  34. Jose - seriously? I couldn't tell which of these didn't come from a web cam, if suitably adjusted. (Not a criticism of the shots, just of the shrinking to screen resolution.)

    A 15x10" is a bit under 300ppi on a D700 and a bit under 500ppi on a D800. Looking closely, can you see more than 300ppi of detail in high contrast edges? Absolutely. It's certainly possible to see the difference between plain black and white text printed on a 300ppi laser printer instead of a 600ppi one. Use high quality upscaling software and you'll probably not see the difference. Don't have sharp high-contrast edges in the image, and you'll probably never notice. Don't look too closely, and you'll probably never notice. 300ppi doesn't look soft unless you put something sharper next to it. 35mm film looks sharp until you put it next to the output of 6x7.

    Will you see no difference from a D800 (even if you ignore the dynamic range and ISO differences) using a D700? No. Is the D700 a very good camera, perfectly capable of producing sharp decent-sized prints, especially with a little sharpening to compensate for its strongish low-pass filter? Absolutely. Not a word of complaint about mine in the last four years (except a couple of ergonomic niggles that aren't fixed in the D800).

    But I have to admit I'm planning to upgrade. It's up to you whether it's worth it.
  35. I just sold my D700 to get the D800. I was on a wait list for about three months before the D800 arrived. The store called me while I was taking photographs in a garden. I went to the store and traded in for the D800 then returned to the garden. I was renting a 300mm/F4.0 and using it with a TC 1.4 on the D700 and the D800. Before returning to the garden I attached the 300 and TC 1.4 to the D800 and focused at something close by in the store. The focus was VERY fast. I focused on a car across the street again the focus was VERY fast. MUCH faster than with the D700. I knew the D800 was going to be faster focusing than the D700 but I did not expect the speed increase. The focus speed on the D700 cost me some once in a life time images that I think the D800 could have captured.
    After setting up the D800 I returned to the garden for more images. The images of the bees, butterflies, and flowers are here.
    A week or so back I printed some of the images from the garden at 12x18 inches. I printed images from both the D700 and D800. One image from the D700 was of a Painted Lady Butterfly on a Purple Cone flower. I had a bunch of similar images from the D800. The wifey and I could not tell which image was from the D700 or the D800. I had to pull up the image on the computer to figure out. I told the wife I should return the D700. I was just kidding. :)
    After cropping, the image is 1584x2376. I figured the image would be scat but it looked the same as the D800 images. I don't know if the lab resampled the image prior to printing. I have resampled images from the D700 to get large prints and it worked just fine. If you will not print larger 10x12 or 10x12 the D700 will work just fine pixel wise.
    The ISO performance on the D800 is better than the D700. If you will be shooting in low light the D800 is better. I know where there are twin albino bucks. I have been trying to get a good image of them since they were little Bambis but the light has been so low I could not get a fast shutter speed. The Image with both of them in the frame was blurred when they moved ever so slightly. I saw the albino's the other day and while they were not close enough to photograph together I did get some images. Not great images per say but you don't see albino deer often and one certainly not twin albinos. The D700 could not have gotten the same image since I had to go to ISO 6400.
    I bought the D800 for the better ISO but the real improvement for me was the 36 MP. I also do sports and wildlife photography and the ability to crop and still have a printable image is important to me. I have had images that just did not have the pixels. Before the D800 specs went public I figured 16, 20, or 24 MP would work just fine for the situations where I was short of pixels. 36MP is more than enough. :) I had to upgrade my PC from 4GB to 8GB to handle the larger files. CPU is still a bit weak but workable for most of what I do. However when sports start up again I will likely have to build a new system to get a faster CPU so I can edit large number of images quickly.
    Below is an image of a Great Blue Heron(GBH) in a pine tree. Again not a great image but it was taken on the last day I had with the 300mm/F4.0 lens along with the D800 and the TC1.4. It was a great test image. I have been after a photo of this or other GBH for months but they are very skittish. I had tried to get close to the GBH a couple of times but it was spooked by other people, me and who knows what else. At one point I saw it fly and land in a pine tree on the other side of the river. The GBH had to be a good 100-200 yards away. With the D700 the shot would have been wasted but it was a great test shot with the D800. :) But even the D800 was just barely able to get a decent image. The 36MP made the image possible.
    All of these images were handheld. The butterfly image had enough light. There was very little light with the albino deer and there was some light with the GBH. I am pretty good at hand holding but the GBH photo was pushing my technique. I was tired, my heart rate was a bit up since I had been hiking steadily with a heavy tripod and camera back pack. The angle I had to hold the camera was not optimum for holding steady in fact the angle seemed to increase my shaking. I had to use ISO 900 to get 1/500s which is really not that high of a shutter speed considering the circumstances and use 420mm of lens. But it was a good test of the D800.
    I only have a few hundred images on the D800 so far but I have been impressed but its focusing and the metering has been better than the D700. This might have been the subject matter and the light but it stuck out at me. The 36MP is working as expected though the impact on my old PC was not as bad as I was afraid. The ISO improvement is there and important to me. At this point I cannot say that the color depth and smoothness is an improvement. There is a place I have taken quite a few images with the D700 and I will return with the D800. The particular images I was after had too much dynamic range for the D700. It will be interesting to see what the D800 can do.
  36. "(@ 300ppp on the screen" - not sure what ppp is, but this screen must be of top quality.
    The first picture shows more wrinkled older woman of the left, and on the right a smoother perhaps younger woman. Or possibly the woman was aware of being shot with a pricier camera D800, and looks younger and happier...:)
    There are tools and lighting techniques to do it, that is make look a person younger, but a camera should show exactly the truth, when no gimmicks applied. Then it is the photographer discreation, or customer request to alter portrait, usually to more favorable or younger looking face.
    I would be disapointed with D800 smoothing things out for me as a photographer, but happy if I was the subject on the picture.
    Should a camera deliver true state of wrinkles ? or should "help" a bit. If picture on the right is from D800 so older ladies certainly would like it better than D700 with picture on the left. Not sure about the photographers.
    Web comparisons are always tricky. A subject that does not change or show emotions, could better reprent a test object, but in real life we do shoot real people, and from what is shown up here, I see no clear winner. Certainly D800 must be a better camera for something, like making huge crop ratios, that will release and relax the photographer from duty to frame optimally, and utilize the best the sensor can produce.
  37. I bought the D800 to replace my D700 for:
    - 100% OVF
    - Better High ISO Noise Characteristics - specifically no sensor blooming
    - Better Base ISO DR
    - Better AF system - specifically f/8 sensitivity
    - 100 gm lighter
    - Better AV connection door (my D700 is constantly flopping open)
    - dual slots (don't care that one is CF and the other SD)
    Notice that I did not mention 36MP nor video. For me the above seem to be worth it - at least I hope so as I've only had the D800 for 2 weeks or so. So far so good. I especially like the sensor dust characteristics - i.e., it seems to be much more immune to getting dust on the sensor than my D700 is.
    It has taken some learning for post-processing as it's a bit harder to get the colors I want - especially blue skies. Also, if I want all 36MP of sharpness I need to be extra careful with technique - most times I still shoot just like with my D700 as 12MP is usually enough for me.
  38. " Better AV connection door (my D700 is constantly flopping open)" - I share with you the pain of this door design.
    D200 had a door lock, but removed from newer cameras like D700. I complained about it, but majority of people here liked the new door desing. Well, ... nec Hercules contra plures.
  39. Andrew, Frank, both are 100% crops, from an almost-half body portrait, the same left eye in the same place. The model was not frozen... :) I prefered to have a "real" model instead of a brick wall to see "real life" differences. I took many shots with both cameras, so there aren`t two identical images. A very slight focus difference gives a clear edge to the focused image, so I`m posting two of the best focused ones. The different eye position is not an issue to me, I think the differences are clear. Anyway, I think I also have "brick wall type" shots if you like... :)
    I`m sorry, I missed to translate "ppp". Both are the same, that is, "ppi". The first difference I notice is colour. The D800 is nicer at the same camera settings. Just reduce the contrast and increase warmth by a very slightly ammount on the D700 and the differences are even smaller. And if you sharpen the D700 the same bit, they are almost indistinguishable. Obviously, with USAF test charts the differences should be more obvious, but we`ll be testing then -only-resolution.
    My excuses, I obviated all details; series 3 Gitzo CF tripod + Arca S. B1 ball head&plates, remote release, softbox illumination, the lens was a 105VR @ f5.6, -cannot remember if this ones have the ISO set to 100 on the D800 and "Lo-1" in the D700-, I have different settings groups. The model was placed on an armchair, with the head resting on the back. medium sized Elinchrom softbox and another head for indirect overall illumination. It took me just a minute to change the cameras. The D700 RAW images are not modified in size, the D800 RAW pics were downsized using NX2 to match the D700 size. I checked them in the 8bit screen of my 25" iMac (3.06).
  40. Jose: oh - sorry for the confusion. The D800 appears to have quite a weak AA filter, the D700 quite a strong one. (I'm after a D800E, which should look sharper still at the pixel level.) Any resampling tends to introduce a bit of softness, which might balance things out a bit. Still, I'd expect the differences to be relatively minor compared with the fact that the D800 image is so much bigger in total. Assuming lens and technique keep up, of course. But if Oliver downsized all his images to 200ppi before printing, I'd expect the difference between a D700 and D800 to be minor; print at the maximum resolution of the cameras (assuming that most printers these days are capable of much more resolution than that) and I'd expect the image shot with the D800 to be clear - but that the D700 would look fine unless the two were compared side by side. Could you tell an 80MP medium format image from the D800, or a 200MP scanning back image, in a 10x15 print? Still possibly (especially if there's a lot of high frequency chroma detail), although it would certainly be harder than the D700 comparison.

    The colour thing is interesting. I've just read a couple of comparative reviews against the 5D3 (for yuks - I'm not planning to switch back to Canon, though a friend wants one) and one claims the D800 is warmer, the other that it's cooler. I'm sticking to my "fix the white balance in post" workflow.
  41. To those who write "If you even need to ask this question, it is very clear that you don't need it", this is the equivalent to the shopkeeper telling the prospective customer, "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."​
    I agree Robert. I was on a shoot a couple of summers ago where Nikon supplied us with 3 Nikon D3s cameras and a host of lenses. As it was, there were a group of 13-15 year old kids who got to play with the D3s's when we weren't using them. It was unquestionable that these kids didn't need much less even deserve to play with the D3s given their level of photographic experience\knowledge, but I noted one of the things the kids put to good use was the 9FPS, they would do these montages, which of course to me looked like very bad, but then one night I realized they were learnin. As they got to play with features only found on high end cameras, their brains were creatively developing. It may seem like a very simple revelation I should have already been aware of, but since then I do not view camera's as "needs" because even those who work in the photography profession could choose other work. Cameras are pleasures, and those of us who do it as a profession get paid for our pleasure. So I think to ask "Do I need" is of itself an irrelevant question, because nobody needs a camera. Obviously if you wish to be a working pro, your field will no doubt define your "needs" in a camera, but honestly I would guesstimate that less than 1% of 1% of 1% of photographers actually have a genuine "needs". I think a far better question to ask is "How will this camera affect me"? Because ultimately, just like those kids, we are constantly learning, and depending on which camera model you buy, will effect how you shoot, and therefore what you learn, and therefore to some extent who you are as an artist, which in turn is style and ultimately how your photos turn out. No, buying a D4 is not going to make a you an amazing photographer, but you will take two different paths shooting a D4 or a D800. With a D800 maybe you take fewer pictures because the file sizes are so big, or maybe you end up cropping most of your photos with the extreme resolution. Maybe you shoot the D4 in lower light because you feel more comfortable, or maybe you look for things to put the 11FPS to good use on. If you have it, and you'll use it, and if you use it, it will affect everything about your photography, even if only subtly. To me its very much Chaos theory, a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa ultimately creates a tornado in Missouri, so the subtlest of changes of how a camera works can ultimately create a "tornado" of effect on your pictures. It take hours, days, weeks, even years or decades for those subtle changes to actually come to fruition, but I do believe what camera you choose can have a big effect given enough time.
  42. Skyler: Thank you for that post. I will try to take it to heart and offset any snobbishness that I feel. (Although I've a pretty low opinion of my photographic talent, which is another good way of avoiding snobbishness!)

    As you say, I'm a believer that a "better" camera won't make you a better photographer, it just lets you take different shots. My D700 is far more rarely the limiting factor in my photos than I am. On rare occasions I have hit the D700's limits, which is why I'm after a D800, but I'm not expecting a leap in my photographic output. It might train me to be a bit more considered about my shots, though!
  43. FYI, I ended up grabbing a D700 today. A local store was selling the Nikon China (meaning not gray market) version brand new for as low as $2050 equivalent. By comparison, gray market D800 costs $3100, Nikon China is $3800. At that price difference, it was a no-brainer. If I ever grow out of it, it's still worth it. Thanks for the input everyone, and feel free to continue the discussion.
  44. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Good choice, Oliver. As long as your options are limited to the D700 or D800, when you mentioned "smaller prints," the D700 is the obvious choice. As usual, a lot of us recomment people to inveset more on lenses instead of DSLRs.
    When I tested the 24MP D3X back in 2009, I once captured the following image with both the D3X and D700, with the 200mm/f4 AF-D macro mounted on a tripod and just swap bodies. You can see it is a flower with a lot of fine details. I printed both images to 8.5x11" and I have since lost of track of which print is from which camera. I simply can't tell them apart.
    I am surprised that the D800 is so expensive in China. At the end of May, we had some people visiting from our China office. A couple of days before they left, his friend send one of those guys money to buy a D800 plus 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S. At that time there was still a short 1 to 2 week wait for the D800, so he couldn't get one. Had it been either now or he had a couple of weeks to wait, I could have found one for him without too much trouble.
  45. I was very surprised to see the price of the D800 too. A friend of mine is coming from the US soon, and I could have asked him to bring me one, but then I'd still have the same issue of not having warranty as with the gray market one.

    I got out of the store quite late, and there was not a lot of sunlight left, but I did snap a couple of pictures with the 50/1.8. One thing I like a lot, and was also expecting, is that ISO1600 looks just like ISO400 does on the D80. I wouldn't go above that unless it's an emergency, though.

    There are a couple of ergonomic quirks that are a matter of getting used to, I suppose. I think the ISO button, for instance, was more conveniently located on the D80. During image review, I always press on the OK button when I want to zoom in, because that's where the "+" button is on the D80. I like the metering mode selector a lot. I used to have an F80/N80 a long time ago, which has the same positioning, and always preferred that to the positioning on the D80. The AF-ON button is a biggie for me: on the D80 there was only one customizeable button for the right thumb, and since I am "left-eyed", I could not set it to activate AF, because my nose would always get in the way. On the D700, the AF-ON button is located further away from the viewfinder, so I can take AF activation off of the shutter release button now.

    But I have a question to everyone who mostly shoots raw: isn't it annoying that the WB and QUAL buttons take up such a "strategically" important spot (I mean, we barely even touch those, right?), while important functions like bracketing have to be assigned to other, customizeable buttons? The D800 has a BKT button, but then it doesn't have the focus mode selector on the back, so it's the same thing.
  46. IMHO, the BKT finally is in the same place as the "pro" bodies, as it should have been since the begining. I suspect many people wanted it this way.
    And for the focus mode selector, maybe it`s only me, but I never use it unless it has been unadvertently moved, and only to turn it to the right position.
    I use to change the white balance quite often. I even have a custom setting to use only at my own house, where the wall paint ask for this; the pics look ugly in any other setting.
    I only used the QUAL button two times; the first day I set it to JPEG+RAW, few days later to RAW. Never again.
    What I really miss on the D700 is a dedicated Live View button, like on the D800.
  47. isn't it annoying that the WB and QUAL buttons take up such a "strategically" important spot​
    No. It is, however, annoying as hell that the ISO button is over there, and that you can't map one of the programmable buttons to do replicate it (and, on the D800, replicate the AF mode button). I'm assuming by "strategically important spot" you mean "utterly useless place that's impossible to reach if you're supporting a large lens with your left hand", which is why I live my entire life in auto-ISO and I've been complaining about this ever since the D700 came out.

    I've no idea how the Nikon interface engineers have a spare left hand to adjust important camera controls (well, I suspect they spend their entire time with a 50mm lens bolted onto a camera that's on a tripod, but that's the only explanation I have). It's annoying enough that the review buttons are on the left side (the only reason I'd want a flip-out screen is that it would fix this), but at least I can afford to wedge the lens between my legs when I'm using them. I want to change ISO and AF mode while looking through the viewfinder.

    Does the fact that you like this location mean that you've found a way of reaching it? I'm prepared to learn a new camera grip... Maybe I just need a fing-longer.
  48. Andrew, you do have a point, however, I personally haven't had the same problem so far, as my biggest lens is the 85/1.8, and if I have to let go of it with my left hand for one or two seconds, it's no biggie. All my other lenses are the hockey pock type, and even though I usually put my left thumb and index finger underneath them, they are not providing much support anyway.

    It's not the best location ever (see my complaint that the D80 actually had the ISO button more conveniently located), but it's better to put something there than hide it in the menu system. It's a big spot that screams "here, here, put some buttons here!".

    This is my first camera that has buttons here and not the exposure mode selector, and sometimes I can't decide whether I should use my index finger or thumb to access them.
  49. Oliver - I can see that with a smallish lens it's not such a problem to lose support for a minute. It's a little uncomfortable to cantilever a 80-200, especially if I want to adjust the ISO according to something I'm pointing at; it's really not a good idea with a 150-500 and it'd be a bad idea even if it were possible with my 200 f/2. Holding the lens and balancing the camera while poking at the top of it is precarious. With my 500mm on a tripod, I can take my hand from its (distant) position on the focus ring, but not pivoting the camera about the gimbal mount while pressing the top of it is again difficult. I'm not asking them to squeeze in an extra button, I just don't see why it couldn't be one of the options for the programmable buttons (along with all the buttons on the crown and the AF mode button).

    Still, at least the D800's auto-ISO is improved. I agree that I'm glad the ISO isn't (just) in a menu. (Yes, you could get at it with the "my menu" ISO settings, but not in an eye-against-the-viewfinder way.)

    Anyway, mumble, mumble, broken record. First I'll get me a D800, then I'll try to hack the BIOS (preferably once Nikon have finished bug fixing it), then hopefully I'll shut up about this.
  50. With most of my lenses its not a big deal, although its still a stretch to the top of the dial, however the 70-200 I don't like to take my hand away, and when I'm running around with the 300mm F/2.8, two hands are required. As a result I wind up trying to use my nose to hold down the ISO button. lol, JK, although sometimes it feels that way.

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