Nikon D800 for Sports and Wildlife Photography

While the Nikon D4 is the proper tool for sports and wildlife photography due to its faster speed and extreme ISO capabilities, many photographers are also looking at the Nikon D800 for action photography. First, the high-resolution sensor could give some “reach” opportunities with plenty of options to crop in-camera (DX mode) or in post (I highly recommend to do it in post instead of in-camera). Second, the AF system on the D800 is identical to the one on the D4 (Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX). And lastly, noise characteristics of the D800 are very similar to the D4 when images are down-sampled to 16 MP (down-sampling can also result in increased sharpness). The biggest disadvantage is the slow 4 FPS speed of the D800.

Since many sports and wildlife photographers have been asking me about the D800 AF performance, I decided to share some information on it that I have collected so far. First of all, the f/8 focusing capability is not a myth – it definitely works. I tried the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR with the TC-20E III and focusing worked, even in low-light conditions (although not as accurate as in daylight conditions). Granted the image quality was pretty bad (the 200-400mm just doesn’t couple well with anything but the TC-14E II), AF worked just fine. This means that the Nikon 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 lenses will also autofocus with the TC-20E III teleconverter and you are not just limited to very bright shooting conditions. I will have to do some more in-depth digging with the TC-20E III and other long lenses, but so far I am impressed by the updated AF system.

What about the TC-17E II that I have been avoiding when shooting with f/4 lenses? Surprisingly, the D800 made my TC-17E II usable again. Take a look at this image, shot with the Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S and TC-17E II:

American Kestrel

While this is not a good image sample, this is actually a 100% crop shot at 510mm, 1/1000, f/8 and ISO 250 (click to open the full-size 100% version). I exported the image with default Lightroom settings (my sharpening default is set to Amount: 50, Radius: 1 and Detail: 50) without any sharpening applied upon export. Down-sampling the image by a little and then sharpening it would yield superb results – look at all the feather details.

And here is another sample image that is down-sampled and sharpened:

Bird Sample Processed

If you shoot at higher ISO values, you might want to run some noise-reduction before you down-sample the image to get the best results. Please keep in mind that some lenses are rather soft when used with teleconverters, so each lens has to be assessed for performance separately. Also, I have not performed tests for birds in flight with the D800, which I am hoping to do very soon.

Overall, I am quite impressed by what the D800 can offer to sports and wildlife photographers, as long as you do not mind the slow fps speed. This information has been added to my D800 review (see it here).

Comments

  1. April 6, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Looks great. Do you use these sharpening settings for most of your work in lightroom, or specifically for the D800 and this specific shoot.

    • April 6, 2012 at 3:22 am

      Oded, those sharpening settings in Lightroom (50, 1, 50) are automatically applied by default to all images when I import them into Lightroom. The only case where I revert back to Lightroom defaults (25, 1, 25), is when I perform any sort of lens and camera comparisons – that’s where everything needs to stay default, or the test is pretty much invalid.

      • April 9, 2012 at 7:13 am

        Interesting.

        I did some tests of this sharpening setting with my D90. I found that for anything at low ISOs (around 400 or less), it does indeed improve the image, but for anything more than that – the noise is just too much, forcing me to use noise reduction which kind of defeats the purpose. At high ISOs I kept the settings at 25/25, and for extreme high ISOs (above 1600, which the D90 doesn’t handle very well), I reduced it to 20.

        I wonder if it will be a different experience with the D800 once it is available to purchase somewhere on this planet :)

  2. 3
    ) Terje H
    April 6, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Hi Nasim.

    I may have got this wrong, but here goes: surely the D800 wouldn’t still remain as close to the D400 noise characteristic if one did indeed utilise the cropping “advantage”?

    You mention 3 main advantages of the D800 for wildlife:
    1. Better “Reach”, with the larger pixel count and cropping possibilities.
    2. Better autofocus, focusing F8 lenses and in poor lighting
    3. Similar noise characteristics compared to the D4 when downsampled.
    – surely taking advantage of nr.1 would, in varying extent, come at the cost of nr.3?

    I’ll try to explain: if you put, say, the 300 F4 on both the D400 and D800 , take a picture, crop both images the same amount, and then downsample the D800 one to the same size as the D400 crop, they should indeed look very similar.
    However, if you do use the cropping advantage of the D800, and crop, say, 30% more than the D400, I would expect the difference in noise to increase. The D800 crop would be downsampled far less than before to match the resolution of the D400 crop, thereby somewhat lessening the positive effect on noise of downsampling.

    Or have I misunderstood something?
    Regards,
    Terje

    • 9
      ) Terje H
      April 6, 2012 at 6:33 am

      Where I write D400, I of course mean the D4…
      Doesn’t seem to be a way to edit my post retrospectively.

    • April 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Terje, the point #1 does not go together with the point #3, but they can be considered as advantages separately. For example, you could crop the heck out of the image, as long as it is shot at lower ISO levels and pixel-level performance is good. But if the image is shot at high ISO levels and pixel-level performance is not good, then you have the option to down-sample the image to reduce noise. Where both could be used, is if you have a subject that takes up a large portion of the frame, giving you the option to crop to fit the subject fully into the frame; with a very high resolution image you also have the option to down-sample the image when exporting it to the web or smaller print size, so you could reduce the amount of noise as well when you do this.

      Hope what I wrote makes sense :)

  3. 4
    ) Graeme chow
    April 6, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Hi Nasim, I am delighted to know the result of wild life bird shooting of this camera. Previously I asked about the crop factor and now I understand what you mean that I can post sampling instead of doing at in camera crop mode. I don’t mind the 4 fps as I alway shoot with 5 fps and I got the results consistently with my D300. So 4 fps will be no problem for me to get the result as I want. I may consider TC1.7E after what you write if I find my TC1.4 not long enough.

    • April 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Going from 5 fps back to 4 fps is not a huge change…but if you were a D300s/D700 user with a battery grip, you would surely be disappointed with the speed.

  4. 5
    ) Sören
    April 6, 2012 at 4:25 am

    For sports the “frames per second” performance at DX crop is at 6 fps. That is ok of most situations but I got used to 8 fps with the D300s. The main question could be with the D800: is focusing and action shooting ok with the DX crop. Is it possible to frame and pin point the focus sensors correctly ? or will I miss the correct focus point because the DX crop is too small.

    High ISO performance seems to be in the D700 regime at least so how about the DX crop focusing. Is it working for sports?

    Regards, Sören

    • 7
      ) Terje H
      April 6, 2012 at 4:50 am

      I would imagine focusing to be superb for action shooting in DX mode? Far more of the image would be covered by the focus points.

    • April 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Soren, shooting in DX mode would be very similar to shooting with the D7000, except you get a slightly better per pixel performance of the sensor and a much better AF system. Coming from the D300s, you will surely miss the fps speed. If speed is important, then I would recommend to wait until the D400 comes out later this year. As for focus points, you won’t miss much, especially because you will be shooting primarily with the center focus point anyway…

      • 22
        ) joey
        April 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm

        Won’t you also get better low light performance out of a D800 than a D7000 as well?

        Thank you for the information you post on your site.

  5. 6
    ) Martin
    April 6, 2012 at 4:34 am

    This is a great review. I think, also it is quite expensive and somehow unjustified as Nasim pointed already out correctly , that the d800 fits nicer to the hand with the battery grip, as the fingers rest better on the camera body. And then we get 5fps. This is not enough for action photography and fast moving animals, but good enough for many wildlife situations as well as has been nicely shown in the review by Nasim. In conclusion, this new camera will have many application in top photography.
    What I still like to be happy to see is Nasim’s review of the Nikon 600 mm f/f, especially on the Nikon D800 body. Happy Eastern

    • April 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Martin – a slight correction, we get 4 fps without the grip and 6 fps with the battery grip. As for the 600mm f/4, I am planning to review it later this year, probably in the summer time…

  6. 8
    ) William Jones
    April 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Sir;

    I was considering buying the AF-S 300mm f/4 plus the TC-20E III (to get a reach of 600mm at a reasonable price). Have you tried this combo on the D800 yet? If so, good/bad/indifferent? Would like to be sure the reaction time of the focus is good for action.

    Still waiting for my first D800 to arrive, and wish to have my complete setup ready for use.

    I will try the D800 on sports (horse polo), and will advise you of the results.

    Thanks,
    WEJ

    • 10
      ) Martin
      April 6, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Hello william, let me know your experience, we are professional show jumping breeders and we do the fotoshooting for our horses for publicity and advertisement ourself, of course. I am really interested to get your experience with the D800. However, the 300 mm with TC -20 seems to me less good than with the TC 1.4 and to crop it.

      • April 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

        Martin, I agree with you – it would probably better to use the TC-14E II with the 300mm f/4 and crop the image, instead of using the TC-20E III…

      • 40
        ) William Jones
        May 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        Martin, my first D800 is finally on the way (got shipment notice from Adorama on May 8th). I plan to shoot it in the 1:2 mode (to get 5 FPS), and will shoot with the 80-400 lens (my normal polo lens), along with the 70-200 (with and without a TC-14) and the 300 f/4 (with and without a TC-14). I have already tested the last two lenses on my D3X, and was unhappy with the results on that camera (at least when they had the TC-14 on them). Without the TC-14, the 300 f/4 does not have enough reach. Plan was to start shooting with two cameras; twin D800s, one with 70-200 + TC-14, and one with 300 f/4 + TC-14. Will know more after testing.

        Martin, if you will contact me via E-mail ( poloslides@aim.com ), I will pass along details after I have tested.

        Question for Nasim: Did you get my E-mail about the D4 test photos? Hidden gallery on my website where I cleaned up the high ISO NEF test shots from DPReview.

        WEJ

    • April 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

      William, the 300mm f/4 will focus with the D800, but you might be disappointed with the soft images it produces at 600mm with the TC-20E III. Some lenses are just not meant to be used with anything above 1.4x TC… I very much hope Nikon releases a 400mm f/5.6 body with VR very soon – we desperately need it!

      • 41
        ) William Jones
        May 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm

        If they build it (400 f/4.5), I will buy it. Would also be nice if they updated the 80-400 lens (add AF-S and VR II). I know some people say the current 80-400 can’t be used for sports, however I really think that depends on what camera you use it on. The battery for the D3X has a lot of juice, so it works fine on that camera. Should also work fine on the other D3 models. It seemed a little slow on the D7000, and since the same battery is used in the D800, I am quite concerned (my main lens!). Will know soon, as plan to test this weekend.

        WEJ

    • 44
      ) Steve
      May 25, 2012 at 8:51 am

      I have tried the tcIII and the 300 f/4. It focuses fast and accuate. Not blazing fast but fast

    • 45
      ) Steve
      May 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

      The 300f/4 and the tc III focuses fast and accurate. Not blazing fast but fast. The 300 f/4 is not blazing fast focus anyway, so it is just a little slower and near zero searching. Image quality seems good to excellent

  7. 11
    ) David B
    April 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Nasim u recommend cropping in pp instead of using the Dx mode. However when u r making this recommendation don’t forget that u r talking about sports and wild life photography where fps often make a difference. Only when shooting in Dx mode with grip one would experience 6fps. In my experience 6 fps is much higher than 4 fps for shooting moving objects and makes a huge difference. Thus it is more advantageous to shoot in Dx mode than to crop in pp in many sports and wild life instances.

    • April 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

      David, that’s why I specifically pointed out that the Nikon D800 is rather slow in terms of fps. If speed is important (and it is in most cases, especially when shooting birds), then the Nikon D4 or even the older D700 is the way to go. But taking an FX body and throwing away more than half of the pixels just doesn’t suit my head. Why not go for the D300s or wait for the D400 instead, instead of wasting money on a full-frame camera body? The overpriced grip on the D800 is a big screw-up on Nikon’s part as well. We are not stupid to understand that the grip is NOT needed to get the 6 FPS speed in DX mode – just another way for Nikon to make extra money on accessories.

  8. 19
    ) sam
    April 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Do you shoot for Standard picture control or Natural Picture control?

  9. 20
    ) David B
    April 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Nasim, your argument is valid for those who are single-type-of-shooting photographers. One whose main thing is to shoot exclusively BIF or other things in low light. Yes, I agree for those, D4 or D700 is a way to go.

    But what about a general type of photographer, like me, who shoots everything: a little of portraits, a little of landscape, some street photography, some family pictures, some sports events, and some BIF? So you are taking an FX body and throwing away more than half of the pixels, but only 10-15% of the time, would your head be suited with such a scenario?

    The Nikon grip is overpriced, but we all know that Zeikos (substitute with another Chinese brand) will make the grip that will look/feel/work the same for $60 in 6 month. I owned the Nikon grips before and Zeikos grips and can attest that there is zero difference in performance other than the Brand name and the price. So the grip price is not a true consideration unless one cannot live with a non Nikon brand.

    The argument with whether a grip is needed for higher fps is a valid one; however, I often hear Nikon and others saying that you need more power (that grip provides) to do higher fps; not sure if it is true or not.

  10. 21
    ) Srini
    April 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    A serious sports photographer may probably want 8 fps. May be, Nikon could upgrade the battery grip to double the fps to 8l

  11. 23
    ) William Jones
    April 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Nasim, another question:

    What about using the Nikon 200-400 with a TC-14E II on the D800? Have you tried such a combo of lens and TC (on any camera)? If not you, has anybody else tried this combo on any camera? With the TC-14, the lens becomes a 280-560, and I think a loss of only 1 stop (from f/4 to f/5.6).

    Thanks,
    WEJ

    • April 7, 2012 at 12:47 am

      William, many of the wildlife images you see on this website are shot with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 + TC-14E II – the combo works very well on all camera bodies.

  12. 24
    ) Nikhil
    April 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    What is your take on the D800 AF issues. There seem to be AF problems when using the extreme outer AF selection points of the D800 (center point is fine). Here is a thread on this issue – would love your thoughts/ tests on this:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1021&message=41128645

  13. April 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I noticed that the sample pictures are of “still” birds which any camera can do,but to talk of sports/wildlife shooting, you have to consider FPS (very important). I would like to see a photo of a bird in flight, from the D800. I seriously doubt that a decent picture of a bird in flight could be produced from a D800. It would be blurry. That is the real test of a camera in sports or birding. A D 700 can produce good pictures of birds in flight with it’s 8 FPS speed and using the 3oo mm f/4 lens with the 1.4 TC. I’ll stick with my D700 any day over the D800.

    • April 7, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Bruce, a picture would be blurry on the D800 and not on the D700 just because it has less fps? If you have done much wildlife photography, you should know that image blur has nothing to do with fps – it is either a missed focus or a slow shutter speed.

      • May 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        Nassim, thanks for responding. Maybe I stand to be corrected,but
        doesn’t faster fps give you a faster shutter speed?

        • 46
          ) Steve
          May 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

          No, just mover exposures in a second.

        • 47
          ) Steve
          May 25, 2012 at 8:58 am

          Faster FPS gives you more exposires per second. It is independant of your shutter speed until your shutter speed gets slower

    • 32
      ) mircea
      April 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm
  14. 30
    ) Joe P
    April 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    What to do ??

    First off .. Nasim .. you absolutely ROCK ! Your timely insights and tips are terrific and very applicable .. the flow of your website is second to none !

    “Quick” question .. I recently sold both of my beloved D700s before the price drop .. luckily ! But am hanging on to my D3s and D7000 for my sports and event photos until my “backorder” arrives ..

    Appears to me that my D3s is pretty “close” to the D4 that is on the way .. and that the D800 that is also intransit may even cloud the “need” issue of the D4 even further … any helpful words of advise ? The biggest concern that I have with the D800 is the FPS speed .. but when you can pick up the D800 for half the price and cover the “fast” stuff with the D3s which is still “close” to the D4 … is the D4 going to buy me much other than another gaping hole in my bank account ?? But as you just mentioned … the increased focusing and shutter speed on the D4/D800s at lower ISOs may be what makes the ultimate decision ..

    Thanks for your time and thoughts .. and great website !

  15. April 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hi,

    Many thanks for your detailed review on the camera. Its brilliant.

    I have just bought the Nikon D800 camera after reading your reviews and various articles and trying to get my hands on it. I recently shot a wedding and while taking pictures I had an error were pictures were duplicated on each other. I just wanted to ask would that be any technical problem with the camera or is it just one of those faulty SD cards which has created this problem.

    I wanted to upload the picture but I couldnt find any option to do so.

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Regards,

    Vaishakhi

  16. 34
    ) Sam
    April 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

    What do you think about canon 5d mark 3 ? I know you did the review but is canon mark 3 is better then Nikon D800 except resolution?

  17. 35
    ) Brian
    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Thank you for the insightful post Nasim!

  18. 36
    ) Anthony
    April 11, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Dear Nasim,

    A belated Happy Easter to you and your team -including Lola!

    If someone was to walk up to you and ask: “Nasim, if you were allowed to carry with you only two lens: one for Portrait and one for ‘everyday’ shooting for a FX (D700 or D800) which two would you pick? Remember, only two!”

    I would be interested to read what you would pick.

    Take care

    • 37
      ) Rick JK
      April 18, 2012 at 2:24 am

      Easter may not have been until the 15th if using the Julian calendar.

  19. 38
    ) Greg
    April 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Dear Nasim, I love your site and really value your opinions, thank you.
    I own the D800 and 70-200 2.8 II, which TC do you recommend with this lens and the d800.
    Thank you

  20. 39
    ) Simon
    May 3, 2012 at 4:38 am

    In case someone is interested, I just returned from a trip from Florida where I had time to use my brand new D800. I published an article on birds in flight with the Nikon D800 containing some sample photos. More pictures will follow soon.

  21. 43
    ) William Jones
    May 21, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I received my D800 recently, and have been using it some as my main camera for sports photography. First the settings I am using:
    Image size: 1:2 (file size is almost the same as my D3X, and I get 5 FPS)
    Image type: 14-bit NEF
    File type: Lossless compression
    Turned off all in-camera adjustments (High ISO, D-Lighting, Vignette, etc), except Auto distortion (still waiting for DxO Optics to provide module).
    Used the Nikon 80-400 lens (AF), shot at 1/3,200 second, f/5.6, with VR turned off.
    The LCD monitor is turned off (makes no sense to have playback turned on when shooting sports)

    I did a little image review during the day, plus shot approx 1.5 minutes of video. Starting with a fresh battery, I shot over 4,000 shots and still had at least 34% of battery life left. Cards used were Lexar CF 1000X (one 128GB card for first half of day, and one 64GB card for second half of day). Did not use other card slot.

    Battery life is acceptable, under these conditions (and a LOT higher than the 900 CIPA rating that had me worried). Battery life might be better with an AF-S lens. Remember, however, that using VR will reduce battery life. Image detail is amazing.

    After DxO releases modules for D800 (scheduled for early June), and if Nasim is interested, I could provide detailed article (still have one more week of polo, so I don’t have the time right now).

    Let me know if anybody has any questions.

    WEJ

  22. 48
    ) William Jones
    June 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Can you use the D800 as a sports camera? After shooting polo for three weeks, I would have to reply an unequivocal maybe. IF you are using fast lenses (f/2.8), and you keep your shutter speed high (at least 1/5,000 of a sec, faster if possible), and if when shooting over 200 mm you use a monopod or tripod (or other form of support), then the results are quite good.

    Hand held shots (using a Nikon 80-400 lens) at 400 mm are iffy for focus with fast action. Between 80-300 mm the focus is generally better. Over 300 mm the focus becomes questionable. An AF-S lens might help, but Nikon doesn’t make one with that range (have yet to try the Sigma 50-500 on the D800. Was not happy with that lens on the D3X). If somebody has tried that combo (handheld), please let me know.

    Poor light is another problem (at least with my lens). Yes, the D800 can shoot at a lot higher ISOs than then D3X, however my “hit” ratio (shots with acceptable focus), went way down when I used the D800.

    Image detail, when in focus, is fantastic. However, for me at least, since I can not shoot with a monopod, the D800 will become my secondary camera (will receive my D4 in the next few days).

    I shoot an average of at least 1,500 shots per polo match (200,000 shots per year), and have been doing so for three years, so I am not exactly a rookie at action photography. I will attempt some shots using a monopod to see if the hit ratio increases, and will add another follow-up posting.

    Let me know if anybody has any questions.

    WEJ

  23. 49
    ) William Jones
    June 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Further analysis of the D800 (and also D4), shows that Nikon has made some changes to their in camera software, and, in my humble opinion, for the worse. For two years I have owned and shot a D3X, mostly for horse polo, a fairly fast moving sport. My focus settings were always AF-C, single point area, and focus priority (all three camera as tested were set at focus priority), and I normally had a hit ratio (good focus) of 90%. When shooting the D800 with the same settings, however, my hit ratio fell to less than 50%. Further testing reveals that besides using the focus setting of AF-C, you must also use the 3-D area setting. With this setting the hit ratio climbs, however the focus point will sometimes jump to other similar objects (for example from player one, on a brown horse, to player three, on a similar horse). I even had the focus point leave the horses entirely and move to a nearby wall, and then back to the horses.

    I did a series of test shots of my dog running towards me. He is a small dog, not fast. Holding the shutter button down for a burst, with the settings of AF-C and single point area, the first shot was in focus, while the subsequent shots were not (if shot on a D800 or D4). Same test on a D3X, and the shots were in focus. Run the test on the D800 or D4, and change to 3-D area, and then most of the shots were in focus, however the focus point would again jump to other objects, and then back. These test were run with Nikons’ 28-300 and 80-200 lenses.

    Standing still, pointing at a horses’ head (that was also standing still), I could see the focus point jumping around. Yes, handheld, so the camera is not perfectly stationary, however the amount of focus jumping was more than my slight movements.

    AF-C should change focus continuously, no matter WHAT the area setting is. Yet, at least on the D800 and D4, it only works if using the 3-D option (however I will run further tests using the D-9, D-21 and D-51 areas to see if and how well they work). While I understand the DYNAMIC meaning of the other settings, in AF-C single point should still track, and it DOES NOT on these newer models.

    If anybody else has had issues with this, please advise of your results.

    WEJ

    • 54
      ) clint
      July 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

      I thought I was going crazy while shooting with my new d4… Have been shooting in AF-C – D-21 most all the time as it always produced well focused images on the d700. Seems like every other on the d4 with quick bursts or single fire in the use case where subject is coming towards me.

      Let me know if you find additional info.

      • 55
        ) William Jones
        July 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

        After over 17,000 shots in approx a month, I sold my D800. After over 1,000 shots, I returned my D4 to the store (Best Buy). The AF-C single point setting on these two models (with Focus priority for release), did not work. In other blogs, someone told me they were getting approx a 70% hit ratio with the 3-D mode on the D800. However, on my D3X (and the D3S I purchased after returning the D4), my hit ratio is over 90%, so Nikons’ “improved” focus system is a case of “fixing” it when it wasn’t broken, is actually an “unimprovement”.

        The problem is worse when the subject is moving either directly towards or away from the camera. The closer to parallel the movement is, the less obvious the focus problem is; and I believe this is because the distance is changing at a slower rate.

        Download the Technical Guide for the D4 (link: http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Digital-SLR-Cameras/25482/D4.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-Support ) from this page, and then view Page 10 of that publication. The guide says “If the camera has trouble focusing when high frame advance rates are selected in continuous release mode, try lowering the frame rate.” Read the entire AF-C selection (this is at the end of it). In my opinion, Nikon, by this statement, has admitted there is a problem with the AF-C system, without actually admitting it, blaming the situation instead. Again, why does this setting work on the D3 line (at least on my D3X and D3S), and NOT work on the D4 or D800? Remember, the focus system on these two new models is the same. Also, the frame rate on the D800 is 4 FPS (in FX mode), 5 FPS (in 1:2 or DX mode), or 6 FPS with the extra grip. Just how slow of a FPS does Nikon think the focus system will work at? They don’t say. What is the point of 9 FPS (on the D4), if only a few of the frames are in focus?

        I tested four different lenses on the D4 and D800 (Nikon 80-400 VR, 80-200, 28-300 VR and 85 f/1.4G). While most of these lenses are not considered the best, the 85 is no slouch, yet the problem occurred on all four lenses, on both the D4 and D800, and none of these lenses are a problem on my D3 cameras, so the lenses are not to blame. Remember your Sherlock, (excuse the misquote), “After eliminating the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, is the solution.” The “solution” in this case is that the new focus system does not work correctly. Now to get Nikon to admit, and then fix it (hopefully with a firmware update). Until the situation is resolved, I will not buy another D4 or D800, and will continue to shout about this problem from the rooftops. Man up, Nikon!

        • 56
          ) clint
          July 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

          What I’m reading is if you activate the AF with the AF button on the back – it maintains focus. I’ll be back at the house in a few hours and will test it more then.

  24. 50
    ) jubi
    June 14, 2012 at 3:55 am

    thanks for all your blog’s articles – very useful & pleasant readings.
    the 300 f4 was on my list as sport lens for d800. I was i little discouraged by the low ranking the lensrentals.com granted to it. your review & beautiful pics put back on my “lets save money for” list.
    Any visible IQ loss with 1.4 vs 1.7 TCs ?

  25. 51
    ) Sunder S
    June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Dear Nasim,

    I have put together a budget for DSLR and telephoto, primarily for bird and wildlife photography. My choices are to either go with a Nikon D800 and the Nikkor 300mm AF-S f/4 prime, or a Canon EOS 7D with the Canon 300mm f/4 prime (or a Canon 100-400mm). I can just about afford either combination (Nikon or Canon), but the crux is do I go for saving some money with the Canon set up or do I go for the higher spec Nikon? The lack of VR on the Nikkor 300 AF-S does not bother me. What do you suggest?

  26. 52
    ) Umer
    July 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    Great website and i have been following reading up on it for the past week or so.
    just upgraded from a D40 to a D5100 and went on to the zoo to test it out with a 55-300 VR Zoom lens.
    Could you or some other pro take a look and see how the pics came out? how can i improve?
    i did not know the Auto ISO settings till i got back so i was playing around with the ISO so some pics came out too bright i think.
    anyways, do let me know .

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramzal_mszu/

    • 53
      ) Bruce Randall
      July 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

      UMER,
      It looks like you are doing good on your own with no help needed. After looking at a few of your pictures,the only one that I could see that needs improving would be the last (2) pictures on the page of the Polar bear. They are both overexposed in the background only.Just select the background or use a paint brush and brush it using the burn or polarizer tool,just be careful of how powerful you set the slider.Especially the burn tool is a very powerful tool,so easy does it. I don’t think I need to tell you to watch the exposure meter when exposing,just make sure the histogram is not touching the far right wall. leave a 1/16″ gap on the right side and it will work out great for exposure every time you take a picture and edit a picture.

      HAPPY SHOOTING.

  27. July 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    HI,
    I own a D800 and a D300s. I have been shooting weddings and events and usually manually focus.
    I have run into focus issues with the D800 quite frequently.
    I will be shooting Horse races this season with the D800 this season.
    I will need Auto Focus to work regularly and quickly.
    Can you advise on the settings I should use to get the best out of my equipment.
    I currently have the 80-200 f/2.8 lens, which has not worked the best with the Auto Focus features.
    Is there anything I can do to insure I attain crisp images?
    Should I use a fixed 50 f/1.4 and crop?
    Please advise.
    Thank you for your time. This blog has been extremely informative.

  28. 58
    ) Graeme Chow
    October 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Hi,
    I just got my D800E last week and I am pretty happy with the imageS straight from the camera with less editing. My current pc is old system and I need to upgrade my system. What minumum recommendations that I should upgrade as I am using LR3 , NX VIEW2 and PSCS3.?

  29. 59
    ) Monte
    June 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Just wanted to add to this excellent information that although the D800 has the same focusing system as the D4 is does not perform as well as the D4 in this regard. I own both and the D4 clearly outperforms the D800. Not sure how or why just real world experience with both. Perhaps the extra horsepower the D4 has with the processor and buffer.
    I have had no issues with high speed focus as I have read others referring to, once the D4/D800 locks on I can say that in my experience all the frames after that point are usually in focus. I would suggest some set up changes if this is happening to you. Particularly with the A3 setting. I use the shortest setting.

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