Nikon Technical Guide for the D800 & D800E

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bruce_rubenstein, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Nikon just posted a technical guide for the D800/D800E here: Strongly suggested reading for D7000 owners also.

    To get all the resolution out of these cameras they state:
    - focus accuracy is critical and suggest using live view when possible (no adjustment/alignment issues with live view.
    - camera shake is must be controlled - tripod/VR/mirror lock up (live view obviates the need for MLU) when possible.
    - Oh yeah, use our good lenses.
    The practical limits for resolution is focus precision and camera movement, not pixel density or lens resolution.
  2. Nice article, and in enforces the old saying, "your sharpest lens is a good tripod", and stopping down too far gives your photos a warm fuzzy feeling from diffraction.
  3. Excellent reading. I have a camera with live view and now I believe that I may not have not been using it to it's full potential. The AA/anti-AA reading is starting to get interesting. Correcting the D800E using software or the diffraction of smaller apertures, seems counter productive to me. I am very much looking forward to a head to head comparison between the D800 and D800E.
  4. I'm more impressed by the D800 than by the article. Most of it is common knowledge, belonging to a beginners guide. Not the proper promotion of a D800(E). IMNSHO.
  5. Jos, it should be common knowledge, but. . . . . . . . . . . .what was, isn't anymore. Also it gives Nikon tech support a document to refer new user(pixel peepers) to when they complain about lack of sharpness with the new camera models. :)
  6. Of course, the layout is nice, pictures too. But the text... old information. But it's good to see that Nikon have better engineers than marketeers :)
  7. Very interesting that no PC-E lens is listed as recommended... nor the new 50 and 85 AF-S f/1.8.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It is indeed basic, photography common sense. If you read's D800 preview, we already pointed most of those out:
    When I tested the D3X three years ago, it was already apparent that with 24MP on the FX frame, it was quite challenging to a lot of lenses. I had to use top-quality lenses, stopped down to f5.6, f8, maintaining a low ISO, and put the entire set up on a sturdy tripod to get super sharp results.​
    Some of the less-than-top-notch lenses such as the 28-300mm AF-S already cannot produce sharp images on the 300mm end on the D7000. The D800's full FX area with similar pixel density will certainly be a problem.
    For those who haven't seen it, Nikon USA's D800 page has additional images comparing the D800 and D800E. Some of the images are very similar to those in the Technical Guide.
  9. What does not seem to be common knowledge, based on what I read on line, is the often significant advantage of focus precision and accuracy with Live View. There's nothing to adjust, or calibrate with Live View. Much of my shooting is split between a D7000 and an Olympus Pen m4/3, and the focus accuracy with the PEN is much better than the D7000 under similar lighting conditions and lenses. The lack of mirror slap with Live View, and not needing MLU, can be huge when trying to shoot in real time.
  10. The technical guide provides a list of "some of the lenses" that will allow "enhanced sharpness." I don't read that list as
    being comprehensive.

    That said, as Shun alludes to, common sense is the order of the day. Just because Nikon still makes and sells the
    manual focus 35mm f/1.4 AIS that was amazing when it was introduced in 1982 doesn't mean this 30 year-old design will
    perform well on a current uber-high-rez DSLR. I love my somewhat newer 28mm f/1.4 AFD lens, but will probably sell it
    after trying it on a D800-variant body.
  11. I'm beginning to understand that with higher resolution sensors, manufacturing accuracy with an optical viewfinder, different lenses, and small changes in sensor/mirror box dimensions, simply can't be assured. That's why so many people are beginning to complain about focus problems, especially with closeups. Manufacturing tolerances simply can't assure accuracy with all 3 variables. Therefore, live view is the only sure method for assuring focus accuracy (along with manual focus correction). The Nikon Technical Guide just confirmed my thoughts on this issue so I guess I'll just have to start using Live View.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    For a lot of us, live view has been the standard way to fine tune focus since that became available on the D300 and D3 in late 2007. To me, that is more important for macro work than landscape, and since 2008, every time I need to test the sharpness of lenses, it is through manual focus via live view.
    I continue to think that the real limitation for 36MP will be the photographers. For several years, the 12MP D5100, D90, D2X, D300/D300S, D700, D3 and D3S have given us a lot of excellent images. While I also welcome 16MP on the D7000, for perhaps 95, 96, 97% of us, is there any real need for the jump to 36MP? I don't think our technique and quality demand have suddenly make such a big jump. My eyesight is certainly not improving, probably neither is yours.
    P.S. I bought the 35mm/f1.4 AI-S back in 1987. On modern DSLRs, it shows pretty serious chromatic aberration, on par with that from the 35mm/f1.8 DX AF-S lens. I don't think that lens will match up well with the D800, certainly not at f1.4.
  13. Nice guide. But I doubt if it includes anything new for potential D800 buyers/users....
  14. I wonder if the 35mm AIS f1,4 lens will not be mighty good on the D800 once closed down to around f5,6-8 where its optimum is supposed to be and carefully focussed?
  15. I didn't mean to start 35mm f/1.4 AIS discussion, though I've owned several of them over the years starting back in 1982, I believe. I'm no lens designer, but I think the f/1.4 AIS' main limitation is probably that it is pre-ASPH. Stopped down to f/2.8-4, my aspherical 28mm f/1.4 AFD has provided good edge sharpness and overall sharpness on a D700.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nice guide. But I doubt if it includes anything new for potential D800 buyers/users....​
    Those who really need a high-end, 36MP DSLR should already know and practice those tips in the guilde. However, I think a lot of people will buy the D800 simply because they can afford $3000. I probably belong to that group as well. While I think I am a serious photographer, 36MP is an overkill even for me, but it will be a great tool to check out lenses.
    I am afraid that a lot of future D800 owners will discover that 36MP will not give them any better results than 12MP. Expect a lot of future complaints that the D800 is "soft" and has "AF problems." When I tested the D3X a few years ago, just for fun, I used it inside a restaurant @ ISO 1600 with a 50mm/f1.4 AF-S near wide open. I got plenty of low-quality images, considerably worse than what I was getting from the D3 and D700 under the same condition since the D3/D700 have better high-ISO results.
  17. The new 50mm 1.8 AFS (and even the 1.4) and the 85mm 1.8 AFS are not on the list. Makes me wonder why.
  18. I wonder if I'm missing a point in this discussion.
    A lens, is a lens, is a lens, and it doesn't become any better or any worse depending on which camera you use it. Neither does focus: either a lens is correctly focused, or it isn't. If it isn't, that's either the camera's AF fault, or the user's.
    Now of course, if you increase resolution, you may be able to evaluate focus more critically. But wouldn't that be the same as using a 25ASA film 25 years ago? I remember using Agfapan 25, and the images were so sharp you could cut your fingers. Unless they weren't focused 100% right. The grain in 400ASA film somewhat blurs the sharpness of a correctly focused picture, and might lead to the (erroneous) conclusion that focus is less critical.
    After shooting film for 40 years, I'm new to digital photography, and there's a lot about it I don't yet understand. Like: why would a Nikkor 135mm f2,8 which has always produced tack-sharp pictures on film, have difficulty doing so on a high resolution digital sensor?
    So maybe this topic is a bit beyond me... Or is it a trick to get us to go out and buy Nikon's latest stuff?
    Oh well, I liked film sooooo much.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    After shooting film for 40 years, I'm new to digital photography, and there's a lot about it I don't yet understand. Like: why would a Nikkor 135mm f2,8 which has always produced tack-sharp pictures on film, have difficulty doing so on a high resolution digital sensor?​
    How big did you print with that 135mm/f2.8 lens, with ISO 25 or other film?
    The D800 has a 7360×4912 sensor. If we apply the typical 300 dpi (dots per inch), we are talking about a 24x16" huge print. Did you ever print that big with your 135mm lens and then look at the print from a close distance?
    Or is it a trick to get us to go out and buy Nikon's latest stuff?​
    Did you read what I wrote on this thread earlier?
    for perhaps 95, 96, 97% of us, is there any real need for the jump to 36MP? I don't think our technique and quality demand have suddenly make such a big jump. My eyesight is certainly not improving, probably neither is yours.​
    As I keep on telling people that 36MP is an overkill even for me, a pretty serious photographer. Does it sound like we are encouraging everybody to go out and buy the D800 to begin with?
    But should one decides to use a D800, I sure hope that they also have the technique and lenses to take full advantage of that camera. Of course, nothing prevents you from using a D800 as a point and shoot camera. However, 36MP of a poor image is still a poor image.
  20. bms


    However, I think a lot of people will buy the D800 simply because they can afford $3000. I probably belong to that group as well​
    Well, Shun, that sum it up for me, too. I sold my D700 a few months ago and I am now FX-less, so the D800 is the logical choice, as I probably cannot afford, and really do not need, the D4.
    This guide is pretty basic but I think it emphasizes that the D800 is unforgiving of lower-end lenses. I had considered getting a 28-300 for travel, but now I have my doubts. Even on the D3X some people have reported suboptimal results, while D700 users seem to love it. I probably borrow it first and try it out.
    The new 50mm 1.8 AFS (and even the 1.4) and the 85mm 1.8 AFS are not on the list. Makes me wonder why.​
    That surprised me as well, and the lack of the PC-E lenses, as Mihai stated above. Both 50's have pretty decent resolution, similar but not quite as high to the other f1.4 primes listed. If this is the an "unofficial" list of recommended lenses for the D800, I wonder if it is time to "upgrade" my 17-35 to the 16-35....?
  21. I wonder if I'm missing a point in this discussion.​
    Neither film or senors present a flat, 2 dimensional surface for the image to be formed on. The mechanical structure of film is different than sensors, and there are differences in the structures of different sensors. For instance, this is why Bjorn Rorslett's lens reviews have different ratings and comments for a lens depending on what camera it's used on.
  22. If someone is happy with a 28-300 on their D700 then they will be happy with it on their D800. They just can't expect that the D800 will suddenly make it an exceptional lens. If one's bag of lenses are all mediocre zooms then the D800 will be overkill, a 12 to 24 MP camera would resolve about as well as these lenses. The D800 does not suddenly make these lenses any worse, it just takes advantage of the resolving ability of those lenses which are sharper.
    One could tell the difference between poor lenses and exceptional lenses on 25 ASA film and now once again they will be able to see the difference on the D800. Previous DSLRs have pretty much been like using 100 ASA to 400 ASA film so the difference in lens quality has not been as apparent. For instance results from the 200/2 AI that I had looked pretty similar to the 80-200/2.8 AF-S on my D2X, but on Velvia 50 the 200/2 was significantly sharper. Using a D800 will provide similar differences.
    The largest change in lens design from the 1970's- 80's to the 2000's that I have witnessed, is in correction of chromatic aberation. Newer lenses, like the 80-200/2.8 AF-S are much better than earlier lenses, like the 200/2 AI. There is nothing wrong with the resolving ability of older lenses but now that we can pixel peep, chromatic aberation becomes much more apparent. I can't help but think that there is something about sensors that make it even worse than one would expect.
  23. the specifications for the D800 say: "Image size (pixels) FX format (36 x 24): 7,360 x 4,912 (L), 5,520 x 3,680 (M), 3,680 x 2,456 (S) "

    How about selecting the output according to the ~print potential of each picture?

    What happens when M or S are selected, the L format is recorded then reduced, or only a sample of photosites are activated, or..?
  24. The way people talk about upgrading sometimes makes it sound like the results would be demonstrably worse at the same print size with pictures from the 800 compared to the 200, simply because of the increase in pixel density. I don't believe this is the case, but would be interested to hear if there are circumstances or situations where you would see this effect.
    I currently shoot a D200 and a Hassy 500C. I use the hasselblad when I know that I have time to either wait for or can otherwise control the situation, the D200 when I don't. I do a lot of travel, so carrying two kits is often not possible, so the benefit of a D800 for me is that it's a high res camera for when I'd like to have the 500C but don't, but it still has the responsiveness and flexibility for when I'm in a crowd in a market using my old 24 f2.8. handheld (although I take Shun's point that I won't be using the camera to the height of its capabilities in this latter instance - the weakest link will always set the standard).
  25. Sorry, I changed around the paragraph order in the above post - the 200 and 800 bit is therefore a bit unclear! I mean from a high pixel density camera compared to a lower pixel density camera.
  26. I think in almost all circumstances where the user doesn't so something ill adviced such as hand-held at really slow
    speeds (1/FL or even slower) all the lenses will produce significantly sharper results on D800 than D700. Will they fill the
    36 MP file with pixel sharp detail? No, but they will be markedly sharper than on 12 MP cameras. I don't use any special
    technique with the D3X and my Nikkors are similar to what many other people here use (primes and f/2.8 zooms). I hand-hold
    most of my images (though I admit I use fast shutter speeds when doing so) and use autofocus. Very few problems with the D3X, and the sharpness is phenomenal. Whether this makes the pictures better or any more meaningful photos is another matter entirely, and very subjective, but sharpness, whatever it is worth, is enhanced by the higher resolution sensor considerably. (In my subjective opinion this is not so important, but I take it as offered.) One thing specifically which should be noted is that the depth of field at the pixel resolution level is extremely shallow, so shoot accordingly if you want to get your subject within the region of sharpest detail. When making a large print you will most likely observe quite otten that you used a too wide aperture and half of the main subject within the print is annoyingly out of focus. But sometimes things play out well and you get an excellent result.
  27. I always use a tripod with enthusiast + lenses and find my images taken with my D7000 (16MP) just simply look better than my D300 (12MP). I had the opportunity to shoot with an A77 (24MP) and the quality of the images is simply beautiful. On this basis and my experience in using higher MP bodies, I immediately ordered the D800. Higher MP just looks better.
  28. Contrary to what others have said, there is something very new in the technical guide. It talks about the D800 performing better than the D800E at smaller apertures that cause more diffraction. Though the D800E is slightly sharper most of the time, apparently it's slightly softer at smaller apertures. Unfortunately, they were lazy and didn't include pictures that show the difference. I have a D800E on order and that information may have just changed my mind. It would have been nice to see what they were really talking about.

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