Nikon D800 / D800E for Wedding Photography

While I had talked about my plan to use the Nikon D800 / D800E for wedding photography on our site a few times before, I never had a chance to post sample images and talk about my experience. Part of the reason, was that I wanted to give it some time and get a good feel for the cameras, rather than making hasty conclusions. It has been over a year since the D800 was announced and about 10 months since my D800E was finally shipped to me. As you may already know, I decided to go for the D800E instead of the D800, because I wanted to use it primarily for landscape photography and occasionally for weddings, when helping Lola out as a second shooter. Due to a busy 2012 wedding season, I ended up using the D800E for weddings a lot more than I expected. So I gathered some thoughts from my experience with the camera and decided to share them with our readers today.

Nikon D800E Sample (7)

Since both D800 and D800E are very similar, with the exception of the anti-aliasing filter (see Nikon D800E vs D800 for more details), everything I say about the D800E equally applies to the D800.

1) Introduction

Before purchasing the Nikon D800E, Lola and I heavily relied on Nikon D700 and D3s camera bodies for any professional work we do. Coupled with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G (and later the 50mm f/1.8G), the D700 was Lola’s favorite DSLR for a long time – she typically preferred it over the D3s due to its smaller size and lower weight. During weddings, she would alternate between 24mm, 50mm and 105mm (macro) primes on the D700, while I mostly shot with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II and 85mm f/1.4G on the D3s. These lens combinations turned out to be great when working as a team, because we would capture those precious moments of the wedding day with different perspectives.

Nikon D800E Sample (22)

With the addition of the D800E to our arsenal, the question of “to use or not to use” came up. After the first wedding, we decided to downgrade the D700 to a secondary / backup camera and give the D800E a try, despite the potential issues with moire (read on below).

Nikon D800E Sample (21)

2) Colors and Skin Tones

One thing that surprised both Lola and I, was the color reproduction of the D800E for portraiture and the skin tones it produced. While this topic is always a matter of debate, especially when it comes to Canon vs Nikon colors and skin tone comparisons, we both agree that the D800E by far had the best colors compared to previous generation Nikon DSLRs, including the D3s. I have praised the sensor of the D800 quite a bit before for landscape photography, because colors just looked so good straight out of the camera. After our first wedding with the D800E, Lola opened up images in Lightroom and she was blown away by the richness of colors and beautiful skin tones the camera produced. And with the much better 91K RGB metering system, the D800E seemed to require a lot less exposure adjustments than previous generation DSLRs when photographing people.

Nikon D800E Sample (3)

Nikon D800E Sample (14)

3) Details and Resolution

Another “wow” factor of the D800 is its insane 36 MP resolution that is capable of providing incredible detail in photographs. Take a look at this photo, which I cropped by about 20-25% in Lightroom:

Nikon D800E Sample (23)

Now take a look at this crop of a crop that shows 100% view at pixel level of the subject’s eye:

Nikon D800E Crop

This level of detail is a huge change for someone that is used to seeing 10-12 MP images. With such high resolution, you have a lot more cropping options when processing images. Taking a horizontal image and making a vertical out of it is not a problem, since you have so many pixels to play with. And if your technique is good and your subject is sharp, you can crop even more aggressively, with plenty of detail for album and regular sized prints.

Nikon D800E Sample (15)

Nikon D800E Sample (18)

4) Nikon D800E: Moire Concerns

Since the Nikon D800E has a self-canceling anti-aliasing filter, it is prone to moire issues. While this was certainly a concern for us, as we did not want to deal with possible moire occurrences during weddings, it turned out to be a rather rare occurrence. After taking thousands of wedding and portrait pictures, I simply got tired of looking for it in images. To date, I have yet to find a photo that shows nasty moire problems. So for those of our readers that want to buy a D800E for landscape work and occasional portraits, do not worry – moire seems to be a very rare occurrence. This also means that potential and current Nikon D7100 owners should not worry too much about seeing moire in their portraits.

Nikon D800E Sample (8)

Nikon D800E Sample (11)

5) Post-Processing

An important factor to note about the use of the D800 / D800E for weddings, is the large RAW files the cameras produce. The 36 MP sensor of the D800 produces images with 7360 x 4912 pixel resolution, which is about 73% more than Nikon D700’s 12 MP sensor (4256 x 2832). That 73% certainly takes its toll on processing power of your computer and the slower speed is quite noticeable, even if you have a fast PC. If a Nikon D700 RAW file takes roughly 1-2 seconds to render at 100%, the D800 usually takes twice longer. And since Lola does all post-processing herself, she was not very excited about going through and editing hundreds of D800E images. To accommodate such large files, I came up with a solution to modify our workflow. If you render 1:1 previews while importing images to Lightroom (or do it separately afterwards), you do not have to worry about waiting while opening each RAW file. I wrote a detailed “Lightroom workflow for high resolution images” as a result. One of our readers was even kind enough to do a video tutorial for Aperture users that shows an efficient way to handle D800 RAW files.

Nikon D800E Sample (19)

Hence, while speed issues are certainly there, there are ways to improve the speed of your workflow with a couple of simple tricks.

Nikon D800E Sample (16)

Nikon D800E Sample (6)

Nikon D800E Sample (13)

6) Autofocus Issues

By now, everybody has probably already heard of the dreaded D800 autofocus issues. Our team has covered those extensively on this site, since we simply could not ignore such serious problems. It has now been over a year since the D800 was announced and I am still getting a lot of questions from our readers. Did Nikon take care of all the D800 issues by now? It seems like most of the new D800 units that are being shipped today are free of the AF issues. That’s not to say that all units are completely problem-free – I still get occasional reports from our readers about bad units that were purchased from big retailers. One of our readers reported as recently as 2-3 weeks ago, that Amazon shipped two brand new Nikon D800E, both of which had the same old left AF problem. It is hard to say if some of those units are from the original stock of faulty cameras – I hope they were. I will be getting another brand new D800E unit this Friday, so I will do some tests and update this article with my findings.

Nikon D800E Sample (26)

Nikon D800E Sample (4)

Nikon D800E Sample (24)

7) Summary

Without a doubt, the Nikon D800 has been a game changer ever since it was released. I have been heavily relying on it for my landscape (and even occasional wildlife) work and I am very impressed by what it can do for portraiture, having used it for over a year now. If you are wondering about the use of the D800 or D800E for portraiture and wedding work, I hope you found this article helpful.

I will update my existing Nikon D800 review with some of the information and images provided in this article.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, where I talk about the use of the cheap Nikon 50mm f/1.8G for wedding photography.

8) More Image Samples

Nikon D800E Sample (1)

Nikon D800E Sample (2)

Nikon D800E Sample (5)

Nikon D800E Sample (9)

Nikon D800E Sample (10)

Nikon D800E Sample (12)

Nikon D800E Sample (17)

Nikon D800E Sample (20)

Nikon D800E Sample (25)

By the way, although many of the recent Nikon rebates are now over, the Nikon D800 is still discounted by $200 in the US, with additional 2% in rewards. The Nikon D800E rebate program has not been extended.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Deon
    April 16, 2013 at 1:17 am

    :) SPOT ON!

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you! :)

    • 150
      ) rajkumar gautam
      July 24, 2014 at 4:02 am

      rajarts’ jaipur thanks

      • 151
        ) rajkumar gautam
        July 24, 2014 at 4:08 am

        rajarts’jaipur(raj)mo.09784583455 thabks

  2. 2
    ) Roshan Vijay
    April 16, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Excellent article and beautiful images! Yes, the colours do look fantastic out of the camera :)

  3. April 16, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Wonderful insight shared Boss :)
    I always thought the E to be a great portrait and landscape shooter but sadly could not wait 10 months :)
    Thanks a lot and some very nice photography ,love the composition in fireplace room shot,top job!
    ===============
    Please review the D7100 and 80-400 VR2 as rumors of D400 in this fall are on a very high level ,same guts in a D300 type body(more buffer may be) ,if it has the crop in crop factor then I might go for it .
    And if you can get your hands on Fuji X100S ..lot to ask ;P

    cheers!

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks for your feedback as always, Adnan.

      The Nikon D7100 review is underway…just gotta finish it this weekend. The 80-400m sample I received has problems at 400mm, so I am sending mine back and expecting a different unit within the next week.

  4. 4
    ) Khoorshid
    April 16, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Nasim aka,
    I can’t thank you enough for the article. I was really concerned either getting Nikon D800E or D800 as I had some doubt related to moire issues of D800E in portraiture.

    Cheers :-)

  5. 5
    ) DREW PARNELL
    April 16, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Your comments are always good, and eagerly awaited.
    As video is offered, should video not be discussed?
    The moire issue, in video mode, then takes a more sinister hold. Having seen the moire problems with the D800 and the D600 in video mode, the “soft” D4 is in my mind the best image you can get in HD video. However the D800 and D600 have a REAL problem with moire.

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Drew, I am not much into video, so I cannot really speak for it (unfortunately).

      I think the biggest issue with video is downscaling – software causes moire for video, not the sensor. I am sure if you take both D800 and D800E, both of them will show equal amount of moire in video for that very reason. With the D4, you have the option to record on the pixel level – it would be nice if Nikon allowed the same on the D800/E.

  6. April 16, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Great article and loads of interesting content, plus terrific images. I have noticed that since I bought my D7100, which of course lacks the AA filter, my images are noticeably sharper. It makes me wish I’d bought the D800E instead of the D800. The importance to me is feather detail on birds and this has been greatly improved on the D7100. I feel the D7100 will make a great second camera to a D800E for weddings.

    Richard

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you Richard!

      Strange that you notice sharpness differences, the AA filter makes very little impact on images – often you need to look at 100% and even then most people can’t tell the difference :) I would not be overly concerned about the D800E in your case – I bought the D800E simply because I wanted to use it for landscapes and for testing lenses. Otherwise, I would have gone with the D800.

      • 102
        ) Richard
        April 20, 2013 at 2:21 am

        Thanks Nasim. Since I have had the D7100 my Lightroom4 sharpening regime is not used as much as it was with the D7000. Somehow and I include landscape and architectural in this, images seem sharper. The whole package also has more of a D300 feel and less D90. The only difference I can say I’ve seen is that of high ISO noise when pixel chimping seems worse than both that of the D7000 and D800. Guess that’s down to high DX pixel density. It’s soon controlled in Nik Dfine and I’m extremely happy.

        Richard

  7. April 16, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Really nice summary and images. The skin tones look a lot like Kodak Portra to me on my MacBook Pro screen, and that’s a good thing.

    I’m regretting not reaching just a bit farther and investing a D800E instead of the D600, since the D600 handles like a toy, has no back focusing button, and just generally doesn’t inspire confidence under less than ideal conditions. I think I’d end up using the D800/E in DX crop mode for sports, which would produce manageable file sizes. In the D600’s defense, the image quality is indeed excellent, and metering and white balance are vastly improved over my trusty D700.

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Bitan, thank you!

      Why trade the D600 for the D800E? The D600 is an excellent camera with a phenomenal sensor. Too bad Nikon chopped off some stuff like AF, but it is still a very strong camera overall. For weddings, I really like the D600 for its smaller RAW files, so be careful what you wish for :)

      • 136
        ) Kalin Velev
        July 29, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Hello Nasim,

        First off, outstanding and inspiring images! Your work is a work of art and it helps us learn a lot.
        I do have a D600 but wonder if I should pull the trigger and get a D800 as well. D600 with the 24-70 for most of the ceremony and D800 with 70-200 for portraits.
        Would you recommend that?

        Thanks in advance!

  8. April 16, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Beautiful wedding shots, Nasim. I don’t own D800E, but my D800 is not far behind in terms of sharpness and I’d say I simply love it. I though about switching to D600 because of smaller size and faster FPS, but I decided to stay with what I have.

    Take care and keep your great articles coming!

    • April 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      Absolutely – the D800 is as good as the D800E, just a small difference in AA filter, that’s all. And most people can’t even see the difference, even when looking at images at 100%. I bought the D800E for landscapes and for testing lenses and never really intended to use it for weddings :)

  9. 9
    ) Tony
    April 16, 2013 at 3:40 am

    Very nice, but I had a chuckle at the comment about PC processing times. Perhaps you never worked as a ‘Pro’ when doing wet processing, but the idea that 4 or 5 seconds an image is anything of a problem is a sad comment on the ‘fast-lane’ society that seems to pervade life these days.

    • April 16, 2013 at 4:30 am

      Tony,
      I get your point ….but…
      This article is about a digital camera related to computer only where speed is crucial as one has to show results on the spot to client ,which was not possible in film.
      I’m not sure how you define “Pro” …as Pros are using phones these days as a much attractive self promoting and “creative” device.And all “Pros” shooting portraits, weddings,wildlife,journalism and 95% of 35mm landscape shooters have gone digital.
      As for me who came in digital world as a hobbyist only due to no more processing of slide film labs in entire country.
      I consider a Pro tool in PGy as what ever is used for making a full time living It can be a Mobile phone to a DSLR. Even I own some “Pro” level gear ,but I’m not a pro ;)

      Though real masters are still using 4×5 to 8×10 LF :) ,but one has to achieve that status fist ;)

      cheers!

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Tony, very true, I never did pro work with film, we are certainly spoiled :) The comment on slow processing is from my wife – because she is very used to processing D700/D3s images, for her those extra 2-3 seconds per image mean slower turnaround time for providing images to clients. Also, keep in mind that most wedding photographers in the past would take several dozen images, 100 at most for all day weddings. Today, digital allows capturing a lot of moments during the wedding day, which surely extends that processing time. And the clients are smart enough to know that. If it took a week to process film back in the day, now it takes that same week with digital, because we have a lot more images to deal with. I know what the old pros will say – shoot less images. Well, like I said above, customers are smart enough to figure out that they can have more pictures, so it has already become an expectation. They want their getting prepared shots, they want their cake shots, they want their bridal party shots, etc etc.

  10. 10
    ) jeff
    April 16, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Nasim one thing you didn’t mention is the slow shutter speed threshold. Most D800 shooters I know myself included is that its seems difficult to go below 1/80 handheld without getting motion blur.

    • 45
      ) mg428
      April 17, 2013 at 3:05 am

      Jeff, I am experiencing this myself as well. However it does not make sense– if the speed of a subject’s movement is frozen at a certain shutter speed on a D700, then should not the same shutter speed used on D800 froze the same action??

      • 47
        ) Jeff
        April 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        What I am referring to is using FLASH and getting maximum ambient light. I own a D3s and a D800. The D3s I can easily get 1/30-1/60 shutter speed handheld and get a tack sharp image. It seems that the resolution bump is 3x (12MP to 36MP) and using the D800 if I shoot below 1/80 the image appears blurry not tack sharp again this is due to motion blur – which is caused by camera shake at slower shutter speeds the D800 shows EVERYTHING – good and BAD.

        • 48
          ) mg428
          April 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm

          OK. It seems you meant camera shake blur when you said motion blur in your original post. In my post I actually referred to motion blur– for some odd reason I get more frequent motion blur with my D800 compared to my D7K but probably it is my own fault.

          Perhaps Nasim may enlighten us how to avoid camera shake blur specific to D800/E cameras when VR is used and not used?

          • 49
            ) Jeff
            April 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm

            Yes sorry my poor choice of words – Camera shake at slower shutter speeds is an issue with the D800. I have so many friends/acquaintances that all confirm my findings – just wonder why Nasim didn’t touch on it?

            When the D4x comes out with 48-52MP it will probably be even worse! :(

            It all comes down to technique – I am sure some can get 1/30 and tack sharp but more than not most can’t! :D

            • April 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm

              Jeff, but again, that’s not an issue if you are downsampling to 12 MP or smaller resolution. When you have 36 MP images, there are a lot more pixels you are dealing with than say 12 MP.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Jeff, I believe I covered that in the Nikon D800 review. Yes, because there are so many pixels, you do need to pay attention to how you hand hold the camera and how you shoot. Only relevant for viewing images at 100%, but if the expectation is to have no blur whatsoever, then increasing the shutter speed certainly helps.

  11. 12
    ) Hoeras
    April 16, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Coming from a D700 to D800E I really wondered how I would deal with it. All-in-all a mixed bag, but wouldn’t want to go back to D700 – gradually the D800E is proving to be a better all-rounder than expected, just work with it and the results are worth it.

    And I have seen very little moire, in fact I have hardly seen it at all. I know for a fact that a very well renowned local wedding photographer, A. Khan, did a BIG Indian wedding with a D800E and with lots of bling and very colourful clothings that should be a moire graveyard, and it was not.

    The higher the resolution, moire should be less of a problem, so I expect the D7100 to be worse than D800E, but I know a friend with Leica M9 and high resolution lenses, and he doesn’t get a lot of moire.

    I also bought a Fuji X-E1 for portability (side by side it doesn’t have the resolution of the D800E when pixel peeping), and no AA – 16MP and lovely results. Early days, but no moire.

    I think we are moving in the right direction. Banish AA for still photography.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      Hoeras, thank you for your valuable feedback!

  12. 13
    ) Anthony
    April 16, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Nice post with great insight, as usual!
    I would find it very helpful to know 1) exposure data (f stop,lens,shutter speed,ISO) for some or all of your images, and 2) your suggestions for technique – I assume all the candids are handheld.
    We are told that the D800 requires faster shutter speed for clarity. What do you choose? In daylight, you can go very fast (shutter speed) with huge ISO ability of the D800. What settings do you use? How do you find it best to stabilize the camera hand held vs. Increasing shutter speed? (What were settings for photo of woman whose eye you enlarged?)
    Teach us more.

    • April 16, 2013 at 5:51 am

      Anthony,
      Right click on photo and save link as on desktop and then right click on saved photo ,go to details tab and view the settings.
      But ,you can’t use these settings unless you have the same ambient light ,every exposure has different settings ,if you have a digital camera ,that is it for ,try every setting ;) (for practice)

      “woman whose eye you enlarged?”
      85mm 1.4 or 1.8 G @ F2 ,ISO 400, 0 EV @ 1/250 ,Matrix metering,Aperture Priority (A Mode)

      Read ARTICLES ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS at HOME PAGE ON TOP ,SEE TIPS FOR BEGINNERS and OTHER POSTS.
      =======
      But, it would be nice to show basic settings under photo as it interrupts reading the article …

      cheers!

      • 17
        ) Anthony
        April 16, 2013 at 7:19 am

        Thanks for the instructions to get the exposure info.
        I’m not quite as naive as your response suggests you think. The traditional wisdom for minimal shutter speed for handheld photos is the reciprocal of the focal length, e.g. 1/50 for 50 mm, etc. Some highly respected online photographers/bloggers have suggested using twice as fast, e.g. 1/100 for 50 mm with the D800. Others have stressed the need for “meticulous technique” for maximally sharp photos…usually includes a tripod.
        My question was to get at how fast a shutter speed Nasim has found the D800 needs for a given lens for optimal sharpness, whether these photos were taken with tri/monopod, any other useful tips. Obviously, focusing on the eyes is a must. I assume he is using phase contrast AF, not live view, for wedding candids.

        • April 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

          You are more than welcome, now please read your original post again and share some your own proven “wisdom” too ;)
          Oh ,I’m more than sure you are NOT naive ;)
          cheer up ! ;)

        • April 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

          Nah, you don’t need a tripod with the D800. For landscape photography, that’s a given (for any camera), but for portraits? Can you imagine walking around taking pictures of a wedding with a tripod? :)

          Just look at images when you shoot them at 100% view. If the image is blurry, shutter speed is too slow. Use Auto ISO and set it to “faster” or more and you are taken care of. Most of the time, I get tack sharp images without going faster than the focal length. Good hand-holding technique and keeping an eye on the available light is typically plenty for me.

    • 42
      ) DavidL
      April 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      The answer to every question you have asked is on this website somewhere so go to the top of the page and click on Photography Tips and start working your way through the older posts. You will be amazed what Nasim has already told us. By the way, read the comments as well, you will get a lot of answers in there as well

      Cheers

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Anthony, thank you for your feedback!

      You can view EXIF info, as Adnan pointed out above. I would recommend downloading an extension for your browser to do it – I use “EXIF Reader” for Chrome, which shows all the exposure information as an overlay on images. As for technique, yes, the D800 has a lot more resolution than older generation Nikon DSLRs. If you make those images smaller, say equivalent to 12 MP, then there is no difference. If you want super clear sharpness at 100% view, like with the girl example I showed above, then you need to watch your shutter speed and hand-holding technique. I typically set my cameras to Auto ISO and let the camera do the math with the shutter speed – I shoot in Aperture priority 90% of the time. The nice thing about the new Nikon firmware, is that you can program Auto ISO to choose a faster shutter speed. The typical formula is shutter speed = focal length, but now you can say “faster” or 2x faster, which increases the shutter speed relative to the focal length even more…

      • 96
        ) Anthony
        April 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm

        Nasim,
        Thanks for pointing out the ISO Auto, Auto>Faster option for selecting shutter speed. I’m sure I read about it when I got my camera and 472 page owner’s manual, but I forgot. Nice feature!

  13. April 16, 2013 at 5:37 am

    Love that shot of the gentleman with the cigar! Excellent!

  14. 16
    ) Peter
    April 16, 2013 at 7:11 am

    What about HDR with those large D800 files?

    I shoot 5 images with my D700 to get an HDR. Can you do the same with a D800?

    Would a D800 HDR be overkill?

    • 18
      ) Anthony
      April 16, 2013 at 7:21 am

      Five shot HDRs with D800 are glorious! Do it.

      You’re going to need a big hard drive to store them all, and a fast computer to process the enormous files. Well worth it, to me though.

      • 20
        ) Peter
        April 16, 2013 at 7:49 am

        Thanks for the info.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Peter, there is so much dynamic range on the D800, that a five bracket HDR will give you a lot to play with :)

  15. 21
    ) FrancoisR
    April 16, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Maybe your best article so far Nasim! Anyway one of the best for the very least. Say thank to your wife, there is love here for sure. You’re the “Alonso” of kodak lloll.
    I know I’m biased, I like my D800 very much for all the good reasons you bring up. It’s the 85G 1.8 combination that impresses me most (anyway it’s what I have). I don’t use the “E” but it i’m happy with mine. -It’s no coincidence I call it my microscope.-

    I think that the D800(E) is the perfect wedding box (even if I don’t do it as a living). Because during a wedding you have that fraction of a second to let the camera settle, focus and expose that you don’t have in sports or action. And this the D800 does best! Give it light and it will illuminate you. For the bad days I have the 5D3 but a wedding is ALWAYS a good day (sourire)…

    I think that someone TODAY who is serious about photography is really missing something without it. It’s a breakthrough even if as we all know nothing is perfect.

    Thumbs UP!

    • 22
      ) FrancoisR
      April 16, 2013 at 8:01 am

      BTW I use an I7-3820 16gb ram with SSD, combo cost less than 1/3 of a D800 body. No wait time at ALL! IMHO if one can afford the box, one can afford the upgrade…

      My backup is FX-8350 based, a bit slower but 1/2 the $ of the Intel. Or 2 months gas for that guzzling SUV.

      La machine, des vétilles lloll…

      • April 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

        I think my problem is DNG files instead of NEF. Will have to look into performance differences between the two and see what’s up :)

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you FrancoisR, appreciate the feedback as always :)

      And yes, the 85mm f/1.8G + D800 is a phenomenal combo, I will do another post like this later perhaps :)

  16. 23
    ) Mario
    April 16, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Nice review. I just have one question. I become owner od D800 recently. I am very happy with d800 and i don’t have AF issue, but i have one problem. My problem is processing. Because of file size its very slow.
    I have intel q6600 and 8gb memory and ssd drive.
    With my previous photo gear (D700) everything worked flawlessly. But now this PC its not enough. My main problem is when I adds some adjustment (exposure, contrast, wb and etc.) I am waiting to show me preview about 10 seconds.
    Lets say that i have 100 photos to process, in first 20 photo everything run ok, but after that its start behave like i described.

    So can you tell me what is your PC or advice what i should take to run normally.

    tnx in advance

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Mario, congrats with the D800 purchase!

      Yes, PC processing time is certainly affected, as I pointed out in the above article. Do you convert your images to DNG or just RAW?

      • 98
        ) Mario
        April 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

        Thanks Nasim,

        I am doing in RAW so far, but i would like to buy new PC if that improve to works normally. So your advice is to try converting file to DNG and than processing, or it would be better to buy new PC. If is better to buy new PC, can you advice me what CPU i should take .

  17. 24
    ) Pete Johnson
    April 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Hi Nasim, enjoyed this article and can say that I too am continually amazed at the quality and colors of photos with these cameras. While the files are very large and do slow down post processing to some extent (I only really notice it in converting my raw files) I find the upside to this is that the images require so much less correction to obtain the desired result. So post processing times for me are actually less than with my D7000 in the same situations. I shoot lots and lots of sports, indoor and outdoor, daytime and night time, (yes, I know the fps of the D800(E) is not supposed to be conducive to this) and regularly process 1500-2500 images a week so this is very important to me. Also my keeper rate has gone through the roof, technical wise, in fact I find it harder to cull images as almost all are OK technically. One other surprise has been the improvement in matrix metering, something I had pretty well stopped using with the D90-D7000. I used spot metering almost exclusively to avoid blown highlights while using any auto ISO settings in difficult lighting but have found the D800-matrix metering gives me very consistent images in those situations, another great advantage in post processing.
    I have had to increase HDD capacity quite a bit. I have added 4Tbs since buying this camera.
    Always find your articles informative and appreciate that all of you on your site address a wide gamut of issues a photographer is likely to encounter in the whole process, from buying equipment to putting out a finished product. Thank you , Pete.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks for your detailed feedback Pete. I agree with everything you pointed out, especially on metering. I also find myself adjusting a lot less with the newer Nikon cameras than with the older ones.

  18. 25
    ) Graham
    April 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Lovely photos, Nasim. Thank you.
    I wonder if you would please share your camera settings: do you shoot wedding portraits in “Neutral”, rather than N+1? Or are all settings overridden by LR presets?
    Are you using AWB, or ‘Daylight’—and at what colour temp? If AWB, are all those reports about a Green bias complete nonsense, or has the output from Nikon been adjusted in recent firmware? For you have beautifully clean whites here of course! Lovely!

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Graham, because I always shoot in RAW, those camera-specific settings do not matter. In RAW, whatever you set in your camera only affects the JPEG image that is embedded into the RAW file. Upon import, the JPEG portion is omitted anyway, because all the processing is done at RAW level instead. So my settings are default, with Auto WB.

      As for the green tint, I have never seen or noticed it – as far as I know, it only affects the way the LCD shows colors. You will never see a green tint in your RAW images.

  19. 26
    ) Arash
    April 16, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Great article! I love my d800e with the exception of its front focusing at wide aperture in low light that I have addressed to some degree using auto fine tune.

    On a separate note I was wondering if you had changed your auto whit balance setting or are u using the default? I changed mine to be a bit warmer and hoping the colors would be closer to canon by having it at A2,m2…but I’m thinking its too warm in most cases and the whites are not quite white. What setting do u use? Thx

    • 29
      ) FrancoisR
      April 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

      I did too…

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Arash, I don’t ever look at my WB settings and just shoot Auto WB. I know I adjust WB in Lightroom anyway, so I don’t bother…

  20. April 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I have taken over 30K wedding photo’s with my D800 now and love it!!!! :)

    • 36
      ) Peter
      April 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      30,000 wedding photos? You poor guy having to tolerate so many weddings with so many mother-in-laws…so many mothers…so many goofy shots of brides and grooms. And then, after all is said and done and you get paid, the wedding albums never get opened after year 1 of the marriage.

      There is more “corn” in wedding albums than there is in the entire State of Kansas.

      Hang in there.

      • April 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Haha Peter :D True, but wedding photographers enjoy it! Ask my wife – she will tell you all about it :)

        • 106
          ) Peter
          April 20, 2013 at 7:31 am

          Keep a close eye on your wife. If she exhibits the “thousand yard stare” after finishing a wedding shoot, rush her to the hospital for plenty of R&R.

          All kidding aside, I did 3 weddings and quit. For me it was pure boredom and SSDD.

          The only thing worse for me than weddings is fashion photography.

    • April 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      LOL :) if there was no digital ,1000 feet of backpack feeding rolls would have been invented with quick check Polaroid cartridges :)
      Digital is a blessing for you guys :)

      Lovely shots you got there btw :)

      cheers!

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Andrew, glad you are enjoying yours!

  21. 28
    ) Joshua
    April 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Great post! I really am impressed by your pics and the D800.

  22. 30
    ) Rafael
    April 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Nasim,

    Excellent report and very impartial, as expected from you.
    This article dissipated the (little) concern I had about the D800E. The only that remains is the infamous big files for RAW shooters, but that will be only addressed after some time is given to more powerful PC’s be developed.

    Congrats for the text and samples, the images are great.

    • 32
      ) FrancoisR
      April 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I don’t understand.

      I shoot only in raw and I have no problem with file size, never had. Even my 3.5 lbs laptop with an I5, USB3 and hybrid hd is just fine when I travel using Photoshop. Video taxes a PC not images ???
      I have an I7 to edit videos and when using Adobe Elements I see it reach 90% capacity and climb to 80C but with images, it simply idles a 30%. The technology is here and dirt cheap. New motherboards are designed to configure small SSD drives (120gb for less than $100.00) as cache and use a $60.00 1 TB HD for storage. 4 TB goes to less than $200.00. A decent (100mbs) 1000x 64GB CF card goes for a lot more. Windows 8 manages the data much better too. Gamers ares hungry for power and hot graphic processors, not images.

      • 33
        ) Rafael
        April 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        You mentioned Photoshop, where you have to open one file at once.

        We’re talking about Lightroom, which is a different way and the RAW file size is a known and common concern among D800/E photographers and LR users. The problem is caching such big images in a workflow – it s l o w s down LR by quite a bit, Nasim even mentions this in his article.

        Take this line, for instance:

        “That 73% certainly takes its toll on processing power of your computer and the slower speed is quite noticeable, even if you have a fast PC. If a Nikon D700 RAW file takes roughly 1-2 seconds to render at 100%, the D800 usually takes twice longer. And since Lola does all post-processing herself, she was not very excited about going through and editing hundreds of D800E images. “

      • 34
        ) FrancoisR
        April 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        Ok,

        Understook. thanks!

        • 35
          ) FrancoisR
          April 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

          Maybe the solution is there: batch in Photoshop lloll? On my last trip I processed 156gb of videos and pictures in a few day. I have been too lazy to learn Lightroom having used Photoshop for a long time.

          I’m glad I asked.

          cheers

          • 57
            ) FrancoisR
            April 18, 2013 at 8:14 am

            I read that LR 5 Beta is out, maybe they have fixed it a bit?

            • 58
              ) Rafael
              April 18, 2013 at 8:56 am

              Not sure yet, as a beta version usually is not that polished, maybe “speed” is not the top priority.
              At least from the few reviews/previews I’ve read, there’s no highlight on speed so far. Probably it is not Adobe’s focus in this moment, very likely they’re willing to squash any bugs that may show up first.

              Maybe we’re able to know more once more people starts using it and we get solid feedback from several D800 users on this new version.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you for your feedback Rafael!

  23. 31
    ) Subhasis
    April 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Nasim:

    In the comments section of your D600 review, you had mentioned that “for portraits and weddings (my wife’s business), I would prefer the D600 instead. “, because of its smaller files that help in faster post-processing. Can you tell us which camera (D600 vs. D800) you and your wife actually use for photographing wedding now?

    Thank you.

    • April 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Subhasis, yes, I do prefer the D600 for its smaller files – like I said in the article, post-processing huge RAW files can be painful with the D800. As for what we shoot with for business, we are using D600, D700, D800E and D3s.

      • 61
        ) Subhasis
        April 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        Thanks, Nasim!

  24. 38
    ) Manuel
    April 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hey Nasim,

    thank you for this insightful review.

    When you’re talking about color rendition and skin tones: When I’m taking RAWs and processing them in Lightroom – or Aperture in my case: Does color rendition then depend on the camera or on the Software alone – or on both?

    Thanks and best regards
    Manuel

    • April 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Manuel,
      I’m not a post processing guru ,I only convert RAW or slight tweak my JPGs in Lightroom and DXO (mostly 95 % in LR) or for small JPGs mostly the in camera editing provided is also very helpful. I don’t have Photoshop and actually don’t know how to use it :) ,for rare HDR shots I use Photomatix Pro.
      And I’m not a good Portrait shooter ,for that the D7000,D7100 and D600 are best as one can quickly switch to cust portrait mode with just U1 or U2 setting on the fly.

      As this post is about D800/E , first the color rendition settings are in camera for different types of PGy ,like Portrait ,Landscape,Vivid,Standard ,Neutral. See how the difference among Contrast,sharpness and saturation in each default setting and if you don’t like the default portrait setting ,you can create your own few custom color profiles , like Portrait-Soft ,Portrait -sharp etc. and so on.
      Personally I take D800/E as one type of PGy camera ,if you shoot portraits set it to best portrait settings but also consider the lenses you will be using.
      I did set it to landscape in custom setting by +1 sharpness and +1 saturation as Landscape-2, but nowadays I’m shooting Macros and sometime use the default STANDARD or NEUTRAL setting.

      Then there is the color matching and calibrating with your monitor (so that what you see is what you get in prints), I’m just editing on a Laptop and haven’t calibrated it.

      Then it is very important that you have correct White Balance suited to Auto or Custom as your scene demands.
      Flash Pgy also plays a role in this if one is out or not shooting in studio controlled lighting.

      In software depending your know how skills or if you are a master in Photoshop anything is possible as far as you want to go.

      BUT ,I’D LIKE TO ANSWER SOMEBODY TO THIS WHO HAS FAR BETTER EXPERIENCE IN POST PROCESSING.
      will be very helpful as most ppl. don’t wan’t or know where to browse all these previously topics posted and discussed here.
      Nasim and his team has written some very good articles regarding your questions ,please browse the articles on HOME PAGE at LEFT Panel under different categories

      Cheers!

      • 43
        ) DavidL
        April 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm

        How you adjust your images in your software has a huge effect on the final outcome. I switched from Aperture to Lightroom. There are something’s that I miss in aperture but post processing raw files is easier in Lightroom. I found the fine tuning of the settings in LR better and easier. AP’s white balance is a pain compared with LR. Being able to pick between neutral, standard and vivid when you are processing is great. The lens correction tools are great.

        There are some things in AP that I think were better like the sharpening tool. (Nik’s pro sharpener kills them both) but overall,sharing is more integrated with AP and Nik apps seemed more compatible. But I now use Lightroom.

        On a side note, I have the latest version of Aperture and since its release LR has released 4 and now 5 is on its way. Does apple really care about its users??

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Manuel, it is both. Being able to properly handle RAW images is important – an incorrect white balance setting in Lightroom can screw up colors and skin tones. At the same time, the way colors are recorded by the camera is also very important. Take a look at the way Fuji handles colors – just beautiful. If Nikon bought Fuji and used their color processing, I bet a lot of people would be extremely happy :) But Nikon is certainly getting there and the D800 is a great example of progress!

  25. 40
    ) Graham Smith
    April 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    As a D800e owner I would like to hear more [like Jeff @ 3.52am] something of the required shutter speeds in hand holding the camera.

    The current prevailing wisdom seems to be that the D800e [if not the D800] requires a shutter speed of at least twice the focal length to avoid some blur [rather than the conventional - one times focal length]

    Did you find this to be the case? Higher shutter speeds are usually not an issue when the prevailing light is good. How do manage that at a wedding when you cannot control much of the lighting aspect?

    Great site and great article[s]

    Graham Smith

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Graham, please see some of my responses above regarding shutter speed :)

  26. 41
    ) DavidL
    April 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Great read. You mentioned the slowness of the large file download. Surely converting them to dng files would have a lot to do with it?

    I have a 2yo MacBook Pro with 8Gb ram and it is slow as. The older MacBook doesn’t support USB3 either which doesn’t help.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      DavidL, it is not the download part that’s slow – it is the opening of the image in Lightroom at 100% that’s slow :) The transfer speeds are blazing fast and conversion is also very fast – I have USB 3 card reader.

      • 99
        ) DavidL
        April 20, 2013 at 1:46 am

        I have a USB3 card reader as well.

        I wish I could make the most of it, but until I upgrade my Mac, I’m stuck with USB2

        Once again, thanks for the best site on the net.

  27. 44
    ) Nivas
    April 17, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Very interesting article.

    Do you have comparable shots? I see a subtle difference between D600/D700 during day light but lot of difference incandescent environment.

    Resolution is amazing in the above crop example!

    Nivas

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Thank you Nivas! Are you asking for comparable shots of D600 and D800?

      • 97
        ) Nivas
        April 19, 2013 at 11:27 pm

        Thanks Nasim.

        Comparable shots between old and new: D700/D3S vs D800E/D600. I have the impression that the newer models comes with more accurate skin tones. If you share both indoors and day light then it would be great.

  28. April 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Amazed by the sharpness of the D800 wedding photos.Excellent review

  29. 50
    ) FrancoisR
    April 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    D800 is more like a medium format, lots of dots to write. Canon is coming with a 40mp sensor, wonder how it will handle it. In less than good conditions, I prefer my 5D. But for still shots the D800 is unbeatable. Like flying a plane, all the same technique but all don’t handle the same.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      FracoisR, that’s an interesting perspective :)

  30. April 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Awesome review thanks a lot !

    Do you have that green LCD problem ? Mine seems to have it big time So the skin tone is really not good.

    Have you noticed that the D800 has a higher ISO sensibility compare to Canon…
    When my D800 is at ISO 800 my friend with his 5d Mark III needs to go as high as 3200 to obtain the same light gain.. which is HUGE to me but no one seems to care that much… If you compare Nikon’s ISO 800 to Canon’s 3200 (2500 would be more accurate actually) the noise difference is ,once again, HUGE.

    Cheers from France

    • 52
      ) FrancoisR
      April 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Bonjour DD

      Il doit y avoir un problème, j’observe le contraire (mais pas aussi grave). Et pas trop de vert sur l’affichage, la tonicité est bonne. Le votre porte des “night goggles”. Blague à part peut-être votre copain sous expose-t’il? Je vérifierais la configuration de son boitier.

      Not in my case, the 5D3 beats the D800 hands down. The Nikon is the ghost of darkness compared (yes like Lucas in the UK) lloll. I almost never use a flash with the 5D3. It’s vastly improved over the 5D2.

      ciao from Canada

      • April 18, 2013 at 3:43 am

        Hi There François and DavidL

        Thanks for your reply.
        As far as the LCD is concerned well I will send it back to Nikon cause I’m having “trouble” fixing it in post prod. For the Stills it not too hard but for the Videos it can be a pain in the ass.

        My comparison was done with the Mark II of a friend with the 50mm 1.8 and I had the D800 of an other friend with the 50mm 1,4
        Both cameras where in manual and everything and the difference was chocking like I said previously so I looked and looked to find what I did wrong to get almost two stops difference.

        Afer that I did get a D800 and an other friend got his 5d m III…. well we both set it up on manual with the same shutter speed at 2.8. He had the 24-70 and i had my 85mm 1.8 and I think I even tried my 50 1.8G too.

        And again same thing. I would like to make a video of my comparison but I need some time to do it right.
        but yes I tried it with 4 different camera d800 mark II and mark III

        Ghost of Darkness ? ummmm no way. So lets put aside my theory that Canon has decreased they ISO sensitivity to lessen the Noise.. The Nikon at same ISO is sharper than the mark III so has more details so a little post prod would bring it to the same level as the III…. (and I rarely decrease the noise level just the noise color but I like the grain to it.)

        Here is what stuck my curiosity a review by thecamerastore with Nathan Elson as a guess
        jump to the 13th minute for high ISO comparing.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omTo7UxbJX8

        Do I have the only D800 that has this “problem” ummmm I highly doubt it.. If only i could post photos here I would show you what this is all about.

        Cheers again and I’m glad to here your thoughts on that

        • 59
          ) FrancoisR
          April 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

          Hi Duncan!

          Thank you for this great link, I watched it with soda and pop corn as if a thriller. I’m a big fan and client of them. I see your point. I bought the D800 first and out of frustration, I upgraded my 5D2 to a three. I had planned to give my wife the D2. IMHO the D800 is best in a studio, more like medium format with it’s huge amount of pixels and is unbeatable when nobody farts (lol), moves or breathes around. It’s quite obvious also that the D800 can resolve more “détails” (to the dismay of the poor models?). The 5D3 is my go go body. I love it when I travel. You got to have tried the D800 sitting in a 2 ton truck on the colombian roads. I bring back more good pictures, my wife gets the most stunning shots (yes gave her the Nikon). I love them two, wife and D800 lloll!

          I guess you updated the firmware on the D800?
          http://fstoppers.com/nikon-updates-d600-and-d800e-firmware

          au plaisir…

          • April 20, 2013 at 3:23 am

            Hahah that’s pretty awesome that you both have the two different cameras. And i’m glad that you’ve experience good stuff bith both of them.
            I do have some autofocus problems when I tried to shoot some handball games. It keeps back focusing on far subjects no mater what i do. But by a huge amount and with no moving subject…. I shoot with the 50 1.8G which is not a speed demon but that’s not a speed problem.

            I tried all the different focusing system and outdoors too while shooting horse and I has the same problem.

            I’m hoping that it’s the D800 focusing system that is not doing his job and not the lens.
            I did some focusing test from ~3m with a tripod and all and I couldn’t see any problems with back or front focusing….

            Cheers from France/Amsterdam (for this weekend)

    • 53
      ) DavidL
      April 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      The salesman in the store that I use Told me that that the green colour cast was an LCD issue that would warrant a replacement camera. So if you have one you should be able to replace it under warranty.

      good Luck

      • April 18, 2013 at 3:47 am

        So they would HAVE to change the camera ? I think that they will fix it… as far as I’ve heard from people’s experience with this issue and Nikon repair store… I’ll send it back to Darty when I know that I would be using it for à few weeks

        • 100
          ) DavidL
          April 20, 2013 at 1:53 am

          Yep, thats right.

          Ok if you bought it from a store. Bit of a Pain if you bought it online and had to send it back.

          I checked the LCD before I left the store and had their technician check the Autofocus as well.

          Thanks to this site we hear about potential issues so we, the consumer, can check these issues before its too late.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Duncan, do you shoot JPEG or RAW? I have never seen or noticed the green tint problem, perhaps I am not paying much attention to the colors I see on the LCD. I shoot in RAW and I do not see any green in my images in Lightroom.

      • 101
        ) DavidL
        April 20, 2013 at 1:56 am

        From what I’ve read and heard it’s an LCD fault that affects some cameras and should be covered under warranty. So from my point of view, it’s not an issue

        • April 20, 2013 at 4:01 am

          Hi DavidL
          I don’t really know what you mean by Non issue.

          I paid mine 2400€ and when you spend that much money i would expect to not have to worry about this type of things.

          And having to send it back will mean that I’ll be 20-25 days without my camera… :'(

          Cheers

          • 107
            ) DavdL
            April 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

            It is a non issue for me because firstly, I inspected the LCD before I Left the store. There has been rumblings of this problem for some time so if you don’t inspect you camera you are mad. If I hadn’t inspected it till I got home, I would get in my car and take it back to the store and exchange it.

            Secondly, from what I’ve been told, it is a camera fault. So Nikon should replace it, no question. So it’s not as if you’ve blown your money.

            Therefore It’s not an issue to me.

            If I bought it online or some other way, waited for it to arrive, found it wasn’t right, packed it up, freighted it back, and hoped that I got someone at the other end that understood the problem, and then been lucky enough to have it sent back within a month.

            This camera cost 3k is Australia and because of where I bought it, I have a 2y Australian Nikon Warranty.
            I could have bought it online and saved the GST and a little extra, with a 12 month warranty (not Nikon backed) but what am I buying? I could get lucky and have no issues. But I would hate to be chasing someone on the other end of the line to replace my camera.

            Then that would be an issue.

      • April 20, 2013 at 3:50 am

        Hi
        I shoot RAW all the time exept when shooting games fun pictures.
        I shoot yesterday next to the D700 and it blew all my doubts away. It has an huge green tint to it so I will return it to my local store but I just jumped into a huge job assignement that has to do with timelapse… I will have to configure my import settings if i don’t want to have to correct them afterwards.

        Ps i set my af-s priority selection on Release cause I hate when it struggles to fine tune and miss the shot… Do you happen to do the same ?
        I find that out while shooting a dance show with my friend’s D3s which is suppose to be the king of autofocus… Am I juste not used to Nikon after shooting with the 7D for more than 2 years ?

        What i have found a bit anoying with nikon focusing system is that they focus super fast and then
        does this quick back and forth fine tuning that Canon doesn’t do… Does it make them more accurate than Canon ?

        Cheers from France

  31. 56
    ) Wally
    April 18, 2013 at 5:52 am

    I’ve been a fan of the D700 for ages. Its my sentimental favorite but this past weekend I used my D800 and it to shoot a concert show for a small theatre owner locally. He needs some photos for the theatre web site and being a performer as well, he wanted some photos for his sites.
    The D700 with an 85 performed admirably, but the D800 just blew it away and I was shooting at 6400 ISO in some cases. I was so impressed with the pictures I decided to spring for a D800E and relegate the D700 to backup and some studio work where it is dialed in pretty well.
    I gave up weddings a long time ago but recently have been tempted to try it again after being prodded to “help” out. I’d not hesitate to use the D800/E at all. The more I use it, the more amazing it gets.

    • April 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you for your feedback Wally!

    • 108
      ) Peter
      April 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      OK, Wally. let’s get specific rather than vague and subjective. What does “the D800 just blew it away ” mean in OBJECTIVE terms? Assume you’re in front of a scientific forum not a group of emotional photogs when and if you reply.

      Give me some facts. Did you compare the D800 to the D700 under the same conditions? Do you post-process your work and which software do you use?

      When you were “impressed with the pictures” do you mean the monitor version or the printed version?

      Why would the D700 “dial in pretty well” in the studio and not anywhere else.

      • 109
        ) Wally
        April 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

        Both cameras were used at the same time, same lighting, I didn’t use the same lenses for every shot as it would not have been practical given the shooting I was doing. I use LR4 to post process but in all cases prefer to get the camera right and not do extensive computer time. I have both cameras set up for the same focus methods, same shooting and set up menus where applicable and both have been AF tuned for the lenses used. I used ISO ranges of 800 to 6400 and I use Easy ISO to make adjustments to my shutter or aperture to maintain which ever exposure variable I need for the moving subjects I’m shooting. The environment is a dark theater with theatrical stage lighting, the subjects are various band members singing and playing a variety of instruments. I use AF-ON only, AF-C and AF11. I tend to run -2/6 on both cameras setting b6, which is the fine tune for optimal exposure I think. I don’t have a book or menu in front of me.
        I import the RAW files (no presets) and make my Selects assigning them to a collection. The collection has both D700 and D800 photos, each camera has a unique file name. So what “blew me away”? The D800 pics jump at you. The dynamic range is very obvious, the noise is way less, I have more in focus shots during the “quick” transitions on stage and few misses which I attribute to the quicker focus of the D800. When I do some post editing like Basic adjustments, its apparent you can see and pull even more detail from the shadows, you can “temper” more highlights which helps with the harsh lighting, there is obviously better resolution which comes into play more for cropping than outright examination. My settings for sharpening, radius detail and masking are very different from the D700 and to be honest, it takes me less time to do the post work than it does for the D700 photos. Exposure and WB are more right. Its just evident that the D800 is a better sensor coupled to more advanced electronics, in use its obvious that it focuses better although I know the D700 well so handling isn’t that big an issue. What makes the D700 more dialed in for the studio? I have used it there much more so my exposure settings for my flash units are more”dialed in”, same for the custom WB I use. I haven’t used the D800 in my studio as much. I control things in the studio so I don’t need lots of DR, and I happen to like the effect (look?) of my D700 and my 85mm 1.4D which is probably my most used lens inside. I’ve used the D800 and a rented D800E to do portraits and some engagement or senior photos and I almost prefer the D700 – the D800 records lots of detail.
        For me, using both cameras, there is no question the D800 is a better camera for about 90-95% of my stuff but its to be expected. Does it make the D700 bad? Hardly. I’d use my D700 in a heartbeat but I know its got limitations as compared to the D800.

        • 111
          ) Peter
          April 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm

          Now, that’s one hell of a great reply. I say it’s worth a grade of A+ for detail and objectivity.

          You earned your promotion from D700 to D800.

          Thanks very much.

      • 110
        ) Wally
        April 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm

        Oh and Peter, I’m not a pro. Just a regular camera guy like most of the rest of us. So my observations are more rooted in the emotional versus the test bench. I judge based on what I see and I can see a big difference when viewing the same subject in the same light and the pics were taken seconds a part. At other times, maybe not so much but in this case it was apparent.

        • 112
          ) Peter
          April 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

          You’re making me rethink my decision about not getting a D800.

          I use a D700 and love it.

  32. April 23, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Wedding only happens just once in a lifetime. Thus, you need someone or something whom you could count on during your big day. And Nikon d800 could truly preserve the emotion of the moment. You really have to trust it.

    • 114
      ) Peter
      April 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Veronica, are you being satirical? Or are you a D800 fanatic? Or…are you really “Wally” in disguise?

      Check the divorce rates in this country. Weddings don’t happen only once in a lifetime. If they did Nasim’s wife would be out of work.

      On that point: I wonder if Nasim’s wife ever did second weddings where the same people were involved, with different partners, that is. Maybe she offers a discount in those situations.

      • April 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        Peter I do feel sorry for you. You seem to be having a tough life being so sad and having thoughts like that. Especially in a blog that is all about weddings… you know that some believe that they will be married only once and stay married.
        If we all think the way you do then I believe that wedding photographer will go out of jobs.

        And one more thing: The way you answered Wally was just rude too ! Ordering him to give you specifics… “Give me some facts”… seriously ? I think a “Can you please give us more data about your experience so we can understand better” would have been nicer and more appropriate

        I didn’t write this to start an argument but you just sound like a grumpy old man and someone had to teach you some manners…

        Cheers and cheer up !

        • 116
          ) Peter
          April 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

          Duncan, when you get a little older, you will better understand that there are various levels of satire and personal amusement, especially on the Internet. Lighten up! You also left out the fact that I complimented Duncan on his reply.

          As far as divorce rates in the US:
          ◾41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
          ◾60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
          ◾73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

          I’ll let you off easy this time, because I know you’re young and do not understand US culture.

      • 117
        ) Richard
        April 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        Peter. This is a respectable forum and not a place for making absurd comments which are both inflammatory and totally unnecessary. More importantly you should not make assertions about the host of this site’s wife and what she may or may not offer in discounts in her line of work.

        Please return when you are an adult.

        Richard

        • 118
          ) Peter
          April 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

          Richard, that was a JOKE. A JOKE. Let me repeat: IT WAS A JOKE. Don’t you get it. A silly comment and you took it seriously.

          Do you know Duncan? He missed the point, too.

          Nasim runs a great site. He knows my humor. He knows it was joke.

          Again, Richard and his friend Duncan, IT WAS A JOKE!

        • 119
          ) FrancoisR
          April 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

          La valeur n’attend point le nombre des années…
          Well said Richard.
          I wish the best to all who will get married and the ones who will use a D800 to photograh them!

          • April 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

            indeed silly…
            Jokes are meant to make people laugh…
            And no Peter I don’t Know Richard though he seems like a nice guy and well witted.

            Well said Richard. Longue vie to weddings.

            And Petter I’m 24…. how many more years will it take me to understand your jokes (I won’t say jokes made by Americans cause that would be just silly)

            Oh and I studied in the US for three years and loved it and I love the Americans and their warm and friendly ways. Compare the peeps living in Paris…. well enough said.

            So then again… cheer up Peter and remember manners .

            Dunk

  33. 120
    ) FrancoisR
    April 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    …silly

  34. 122
    ) Bernard Doughty
    April 24, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Hello Nasim,

    A few months ago on your D600 review, you mentioned that you preferred the D600 to the D800, because of its smaller sized files. On my D700, the file sizes are typically around 12mb the same size of the sensor. Could you tell me what file sizes are you dealing with for both the D600 and D800 please?

    On another website, I have seen certain criticism aimed at the D600 autofocus in conditions of low light. Have you found this too, and if so, have you found the D800 AF to be any better in such conditions?

    How great it would be if Nikon brought out a “proper” D600 or D600s, that had a full professional autofocus system and flash sinc of 1/250s, in other words, an up to date D700.

    Many thanks for your time, your reviews are really valued.

  35. 123
    ) BobK
    April 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I am not a professional photographer but have been asked by relatives to do a wedding. I have shot many weddings in the past but only as a bystander so whether the results were good or bad wasn’t important. With me now being the only photographer the level of stress has risen:):) Anyway I have read all kinds of articles regarding the D800 focusing modes to use for wedding type of events. This is not fast motion but there is motion. So far I am leaning towards AF-C (as opposed to AF-S) and Auto-Area AF (as opposed to single, dynamic, etc.). I also have chosen the AF-ON for focusing as opposed to using the shutter release button. Any comments, suggestions, recommendations?

  36. 124
    ) Bernard
    April 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Hi BobK,

    The most important thing is that you are sure and confident with your camera and the settings you are wanting to use. There are always further techniques you can learn in the future but for now I should practice a few until you are sure about changing between them and back without hiccups.

    Personally, I use my camera set on manual mode 99% of the time, I feel very at home with it, but while entering or emerging from the church, or building in daylight, I need to be ready to raise or lower the ISO and continue shooting as before. So to be on the safe side, changing over to Program mode when you emerge might just save you the confetti throwing shot, until you adjust your camera to your liking. It is a good idea on the day but beforehand, to make a note of your setting for inside and out, so you will know where aim for.

    You mentioned the autofocus settings, well you will probably have to use both AF-S for most of the ceremony and AF-C on 3D dynamic focus for the parts with movement. I never use auto-area focus, as it tends to focus on the nearest thing to the camera, which I’m sure you will not want. I think it would be better to use the center spot or the centre weighted spot focus for everything. Just focus and recompose. As regards using the AF-ON button for focusing, by all means but only if you feel comfortable and at home with it, if not, a wedding with all the heightened tensions and emotions that go with it, is not the place to begin trying it out. Just stick to the shutter release button if you are at all unsure.

    Further more, if you can make an opportunity for yourself to go with a few friends or family and practice the main parts of the ceremony, preferably under the same lighting conditions, maybe a week beforehand, this will go a long way to help you sort out some of the problems and give you a lot of confidence for the day. Also attend and participate in the nuptial rehearsals in the days preceding the event. Of course you will make some mistakes, but I’m sure you will benefit more from all your efforts and pre planning.

    Good luck and let us know how it all turned out.

    Regards, Bernard.

    • 139
      ) BobK
      September 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Bernard: Thanks for all the advice. I did indeed go to manual mode for some of the shots as there were some severe lighting conditions that auto mode just couldn’t handle. Focusing worked well with my settings described in my note. Over all I got some really great shots and the bride and groom were very happy with the results.

      Having said this I must say that with all the pictures that I have taken in the past be it weddings, graduations, religious events, etc. I can only conclude that photographer’s unending efforts to find the perfect camera relative to resolution, color, highlights, etc. 99% of the people we do the work for never seems concerned about these parameters. As an example the bride’s comments about one of my favorite pix at the wedding (above) of her and flower girl was about the different flowers they each had rather than resolution, skin tones, highlights, etc. It kinda set me back given all the work I did to produce this pix only to have it go unnoticed.:):) I found that to be true with most pix that I take with comments like ….”Oh doesn’t uncle Harry look good in a tuxedo?” So I can only conclude that we photographers go to these great lengths to satisfy OUR expectations rather than our clients.

      • 140
        ) Graham
        September 17, 2013 at 2:56 am

        There was an obituary to one of America’s greatest woodwind instrument repairers. Amongst his more printable quotes was: “anybody who works to the customer’s standards is a crook”. It applies to any job / craft /work of art, I find.

      • 141
        ) Bernard
        September 17, 2013 at 6:27 am

        Hi BobK, thanks for your reply and the feedback about your wedding. I’m glad it went well.

        As regards your comments about the expectations of our clients, I think Graham summed it up very well.

        But to continue with another musical example; I play in a professional symphony orchestra and have noticed many times the disparity of opinion between what our public thinks and likes to what we go through during rehearsals to present to them a polished performance. To put it in broad simple terms, while we the musicians are concerned with the nuts and bolts of putting the music all together; the intonation, note articulation, balance and musical line, the public on the other hand are enjoying how the swathes of music wash over them and the emotions it creates within them. This is not to say that we should lower our level, as our public are very clear on knowing a good performance from a great one.

        The same goes for us photographers who need to “perform” in similar circumstances, where we have to anticipate the moment and be there for the shot, as you don’t get a second chance. Our clients love to see photos of uncle Harry etc, but you can be sure that they also know the difference between a snap and a great photo.

        I believe that we need to practice our art as photographers just like musicians practice their instruments daily, in order to improve. I’m sure as time goes by that you will reflect back on what you said and realised how mistaken you were. Our clients demand a high standard and we have to surprise them and give them even more!

        Happy shooting.

        • 142
          ) Graham
          September 17, 2013 at 7:21 am

          Of course I agree entirely with Bernard.
          As professional musicians our highest expectations must be our own.
          Next we must fulfil those of our knowledgeable colleagues, whose demands are at least as high, and to whom anything less than the best is unacceptable and might even be thought of as slipshod and thus insulting.
          While our purpose is to *move* the listener in the back row (and indeed great photography is no different, which is why we may gasp with astonishment at the results of Adams, Halsman, Cornish, Percy etc., not to mention Picasso’s stupendous line drawings and so much other art), and thus to change his/her life experience, we know that 90 + % of the audience will be ‘fooled’ within the overall, ‘warm-bath experience’. This is of no consequence to us as artists, and certainly allows no excuses.
          However my parents wisely warned me that there will always be at least one person in the audience (Barbirolli, Toscanini, Mrs Solti etc.) who knows more about it all than oneself, a fact ignored at our peril, as we may prove daily! (I could tell a true and hilarious story about the Cleveland S.O. violin section attending a concert of a celebrated, but exhausted, UK symphony orchestra on tour, attempting the numerous repeats of Beethoven 5, unrehearsed, straight from the airport, the conductor invisible without a rostrum — but this is not the place for it!)

          • 143
            ) Graham
            September 17, 2013 at 7:23 am

            Sorry, Lady Solti.

        • 144
          ) BobK
          September 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm

          Bernard I’m into music also and would enjoy continuing this discussion on a one to one basis as this site is for photography. If interested send me an email. Thanks.

          • 145
            ) Bernard Doughty
            September 20, 2013 at 7:17 am

            Hi BobK, sorry about going on a bit, I was only trying to show the parallels between the two mentioned performing arts and how we should strive to produce the best we can.

            I would be happy to talk to you, could you send me an email please where I can contact you.

            Regards, Bernard.

  37. April 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Love it! A great camera for me a wedding photographer…

    • 138
      ) srinivas
      September 5, 2013 at 6:29 am

      nikon d800e wedding video s thiya vochha ?

  38. 126
    ) Erin
    April 29, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I am using two camera bodies at weddings, both the d800e and d700…and I am having a terrible time coming up with LR4 settings that get the images to have the same processing look–I have struggled for months with this. Any tips for what to try…The d700 seems to have so much more contrast with my current settings used to import d800e images

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

      You need to create separate User Presets for camera and lens combinations and place your original images in respected sub folders before importing and implying presets.
      E.g D700 + 85mm 1.8 ,D800E + 70-200 etc etc. this way the images will be much better to filter and distortion will be corrected accordingly.

    • 128
      ) Erin
      April 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

      absolutely–I realize I need to do this…just having trouble finding a starting point and was curious if anyone had some suggestions on if something such as contrast/lights/darks in terms of the difference…I feel like I’m all over the place!

  39. 129
    ) eric laquerre
    May 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    thanks nasim for your great website!! I just bought a d800e and love it!! Yes file are huge but was expecting it to be worse for editting. I also bought a 85 1.8g after I rear your review and I am really satisfied!! Keep up the good work!!

  40. 130
    ) geoff
    May 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Nasim,
    May I ask which color profiles you were using for the topmost images? I realize they were shot in overcast light which does wonders for skin tone and color, but I’m still curious. Also, how much more processing was done to these in Photoshop or elsewhere that would have modified the skin tones?

    I ask because I have bounced around so much with my D800 between different LR profiles (built in, ColorChecker), experimenting with Capture One, and even DxO for skintones. I just haven’t been able to decide on one and am very curious what others are using.
    Thanks!

  41. 131
    ) Peter
    May 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Nasim. if you don’t make prints, but use your camera only to produce photos for websites and newspapers, are there any SIGNIFICANT benefits moving from a D700 to a D800? Assume, also, you have a high skill level using Photoshop to process your images (including color rendering) and including HDRs taken using 5 images shot at low ISO.

    In other words, would a D800 be “overkill” for non print makers? When it comes to megapixels, when is enough… enough ?

  42. 132
    ) N+
    May 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    nice picture~ is this picture original from your D800? no! this just your beautiful PS work!

    the D800/E WB have big problem

    is this pic shot form D800?
    http://photographylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Nikon-D800E-Sample-9-433×650.jpg

  43. 133
    ) manuel
    June 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    great and fun looking pics, and information, it looks like everyone had a good time

  44. 134
    ) Sarah
    July 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    This is such a great review! I’ve read it several times over now, and it is actually what convinced me to take the leap from shooting with the Nikon D300 to the D800, which I bought in March. My one complaint is actually a pretty big one, and that is my images seem MUCH “heavier” and contrasty as compared to those from the D300. The photos you have listed here all have the beautiful “lightness” I am used to but am having trouble achieving with the 800. I’m wondering if, by chance, you have a tutorial regarding the camera settings you use?

    Thank you so much for all of the hard work you’ve put into this – it is much appreciated!

    • July 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Sarah, camera settings do not matter, as long as you know the basics of exposure and shoot in RAW. The rest is all post-processing…

  45. 137
    ) wong
    August 9, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I plan to buy D800 to take wedding photo. Anyone know if i would have similar skin color as D800E for taking wedding photo as above?

  46. 146
    ) Amy
    September 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    How can I test to see if my D800 has the focus issues everyone discusses? I purchased it May2012 and I feel like I’m having trouble getting tack sharp images. Thanks for writing this review.

  47. 147
    ) RJ
    October 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I didn’t see anything regarding performance in low light…there seems to be mixed opinion on that issue, and I was wondering what your’s is. I have my finger on the button to order this bad boy, but the low light issue is plaguing me while my son tries to convince me to switch to Canon. Any opinion offered here would be helpful. Thanks!

    • 148
      ) Lucky akpojotor
      February 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Great review

  48. 149
    ) Bart
    March 22, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Hi,

    Hope i get an answer from you, Nasim, is it still good to buy the D800E or wait for its follow up?
    Is the 24-120F4 still good on this camera? Does the latest batches still have those left AF issues?
    Greetings!

  49. 152
    ) Alan
    July 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Hi Nasim! :)

    Great article and love your blog! Particularly how you take your time to get to conclusion and back up every argument with a picture sample and beautiful photography!

    I have a question I was wondering if you could help me with, I usually do Landscape or macro photography and recently I was asked by a friend of mine if I could take photos of her wedding. One of the most challenging aspects of this type of photography I can think of is the constant change of light conditions. For most of my photography I use my D800 in single point focus with spot metering. I am quite sure that these settings for wedding photography won’t give me the right exposure most of the time so I would love to know what metering settings you use the most for these kind of events? Matrix metering? and what about the focus settings?

    Thanks a lot!
    Regards,
    Alan

  50. 153
    ) Shahid Baig
    October 17, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Hi guys,
    looking at above photosgraphs i am amazed how this can be done by D800 i have one but i am A/P mode shooter and really want to learn how to capture sharp crsip and awsome shots want to learn M mode but no1 helping me need to know ISO setting, F num shutter speed to achive amzing looking photso indoors outdoors, low light indoor candel effect venues etc.

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