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 has just released a firmware update for a number of current and older DSLR cameras. These include the D4, D3s, D3x, D3, D800, D600, D7000 and, finally, the D3200. Last generation cameras, namely the D3, D3s, D3x and D7000 now support the new super-telephoto Nikkor AF-S 800mm f/5.6 VR lens, so changes aren’t really big. Current cameras, however, have seen additional changes, among which are AF improvements for the D800 and D600 in continuous mode.
Read on for more detail and download links.
As I was writing my Nikon D7100 vs D600 comparison article a while ago, I had a lot of conflicting thoughts that crossed my mind and made their way to the article. I then decided to refrain from making the comparison article negative and rather move my thoughts to a separate post, because I thought that it would be worth the discussion with our readers…
Nikon Quality Assurance Gone Bad
Nikon has been quite active since last year. We have seen a lot of ups and downs of the company, most notably with the amazing D800 and D600 cameras that became available last year, both of which were accompanied by quality assurance issues and escalated into the “Nikon D800 autofocus fiasco” and the “Nikon D600 dust issue“. And as you may already know, these problems were covered rather extensively on our website through detailed posts and reviews.
The Vello Screen Protector for the Nikon D800, at $24.95, is an attractive alternative to the Nikon BM-12 protector, which sells for $16.95. At first glance, I wondered why a third party was offering a product that was priced higher than the Nikon equivalent. I soon realized why.
1) Initial Impressions
I have used a number of Vello products over the years and found them to offer solid value for the money. The Vello Screen Protector package actually contained two screen protectors – one for the main LCD, and the other for the top Control Panel. Both are manufactured with multiple layered optical-quality glass – a noticeable difference from other options, including those from the OEMs, that provide plastic LCD protectors and nothing to guard the Control Panel display.
2) What’s In The Box?
2 black-rimmed LCD glass protectors and installation instructions.
I was first told that the D800/D800E/D600 instant rebates from last week would only last a couple of days. It turned out that the deals got pretty popular, because B&H ran out of the D600 stock pretty quickly. They were able to get a brand new shipment of the D800, D800E and D600 cameras quickly today, so I was told that the rebate program will continue, probably till the end of the year (December 29th, 2012 is the last date) or until the stock is completely depleted and Nikon cannot supply cameras fast enough.
Anyway, here are the Nikon deals once again:
- Nikon D800 – $200 off instantly (body only) – $2796.95 ($2,999 reg). Click on the “Savings Available” link and add Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G for another $200 off, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II for another $200 off, Nikon 70-300mm VR for yet another $200 off and Nikon 28-300mm VR for another $150 off – a total of $950 in instant savings! The Nikon D800 also comes with the following: Lowepro Rezo 170 AW Camera Shoulder Bag, Vello FreeWave Wireless Remote Shutter Release for Nikon w/10-Pin Connection, SanDisk 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card Extreme 400x UDMA and Pearstone EN-EL15 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.0V 1800mAh) ($214 value) – Up to $1,164 in total savings
- Nikon D800E – $200 off instantly (body only) – $3096.95 ($3,299 reg). Same deal with lenses – pick any of the above-mentioned lenses and you can shave up to $750 off in instant savings in lenses alone. Unfortunately, no other incentives except for the 2% cach back are included.
- Nikon D600 + Nikon 24-85mm VR – $700 off instantly – $1,996.95 ($2,699 reg). Same deal with lenses – pick any of the above-mentioned lenses and you can shave up to $750 off in instant savings in lenses alone. To sweeten up the deal, B&H is also adding the following: Lowepro Rezo 170 AW Camera Shoulder Bag, SanDisk 32GB SDHC Memory Card Extreme Class 10 UHS-I, Pearstone EN-EL15 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.0V 1800mAh) and Oben ACM-2400 4-Section Aluminum Monopod
($174 value) – Up to $1,625 in total savings
Please note that there are additional savings to the above – the Nikon D800/D800E qualify for 2% additional cash back, while the D600 has a 4% cash back program through B&H!
Nikon D800 vs D800E
I got a number of emails from our readers, asking if they should go with the D800 or the D800E for their photography. As I have pointed out a number of times in articles like Nikon D800 vs D800E before, the D800E is a specialized tool that should be used for landscape, nature and macro photography, where fine, repetitive patterns are rarely present. If you like doing portrait photography and occasionally shoot landscapes, then get the D800. The difference between the D800 and D800E is very minor that you normally won’t be able to see. So for 98% of photographers out there, the D800 is the camera to get. Plus, the deals above for the D800E do not include all the goodies from B&H – just the bare $200 off, plus lens rebates…
For dedicated landscape gurus, the D800E is going to give the best possible image quality from the 36 MP sensor.
If you thought that Black Friday was a good day to buy cameras and lenses, think again – as of midnight tonight, Nikon is giving an instant rebate of $200 on the superb Nikon D800 and D800E DSLRs (see my D800 review). And it does not stop there. You can save even more by buying Nikon lenses (up to $750!). The real icing on the cake, however, comes with the Nikon D600 + 24-85mm VR kit, which is getting a crazy $700 instant rebate! This means that the kit will have the same price as the body-only version of the D600 at $1,996. Dang it, should have waited with my D600 purchase!
If you are subscribed to us, you already know about the D800 deal, but the $700 instant rebate on the D600 is something I found out about today. Remember the initial D600 rumors, where people were speculating if the D600 would be priced at $1,500? Well, that’s exactly the price of the camera if you factor in the cost of the lens! Take that Canon and Sony, a full-frame DSLR for $1,500 – who would have thought this day would come? Just three months after the announcement! If you have not read my D600 Review along with the 24-85mm VR Review, check them out and you will see why I am excited about this.
Lifepixel, perhaps best known for its high quality infrared digital camera conversions, recently added a new service to its list – removing your DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter. The price varies between $400-500 depending on your specific camera model. The notion of removing a DSLR’s anti-aliasing feature is not new. Maxmax.com has been doing this for years. Anti-alias filter removal, in the digital camera arena, has been thought of in a similar manner to overclocking your PC (before some manufacturers eliminated this capability) or perhaps souping up your car’s engine via a special engine conversion kit – a bit risky but capable of producing good effects. Why is this “risky” with respect to your DSLR? Voiding the warranty for one. Benefits? A sharper image.
With the non-stop onslaught of higher megapixel sensors and technology price reductions, I suspect many people lost interest in the idea of removing their DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter, if they ever contemplated it to begin with. As you may recall from some of the D800 articles on Photography Life, the anti-aliasing filter was introduced to reduce the effects of moire created when photographing subjects with fine, repeating patterns. The anti-aliasing filter accomplished this by slightly diffusing the image, which also slightly reduced sharpness. With the introduction of the Nikon D800E, however, Nikon once again raised this issue to the forefront by offering a camera model with the anti-aliasing filter removed as a product – not as a after-market service. Lifepixel, being one of the premier camera modification service providers, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the new-found interest and market for an anti-aliasing filter removal service. So for a mere $400-$500, you can have your DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter removed and be assured of maximizing your sensor’s resolution. Below is an example discussed by Nasim in his review of the D800 and D800E.
I know what some of you may be thinking, “Gee, that seems like a lot of money to gain a bit of sharpness.” Perhaps. But if life has taught me one lesson, it is this – never, ever underestimate people’s willingness to spend money to get a bit of an edge, however slight. That is not a criticism of my fellow man, but merely an observation regarding human nature. I recall when some of us found out about the ability to overclock our PCs. Despite the warnings about “frying” our machines, many of us marched ahead anyway. We were determined to soak up every speed advantage we could find. And while I never ended up turning my PC into a smoldering hunk of silicon and metal, quite a few of my DIY colleagues that were not so lucky!
Here is a quick comparison of ISO performance (low ISO and high ISO) between the Nikon D600, Nikon D700, Nikon D800E and Nikon D3s. Please note that all of the images below were shot in JPEG, since Nikon D600 RAW support is not available yet. All images were also down-sampled to the Nikon D700/D3s resolution (cameras with the lowest resolution). Everything was shot in ambient light (lab results are posted in the Nikon D600 review here) with all camera corrections turned off and camera profile set to standard (default, no changes). Cropping and export was performed in Lightroom 4 and I used Photoshop to add the text on the bottom of each image.
1) Nikon D600 ISO Performance
When Nikon announced the Nikon D600, I knew the new sensor would not disappoint. Since the D3, Nikon has put a lot of focus on sensor technology and A/D conversion. As a result, almost every single sensor that has been released during the last few years has been ranked very highly by many reviewers and image labs. As you may already know, DxOMark has been testing most new digital cameras on the market today (including medium format) and they crowned the Nikon D800E sensor as the best in the world earlier this year. Today, DxOMark released its rating for the Nikon D600:
In the new article that DxOMark published today, it says “the D600 is an affordable camera that places a high premium on image quality, as it ranks just behind the top performing Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E. It is also a significant improvement over the high-end professional flagship DSLRs, the Nikon D3X and the Nikon D4″. And here is an excerpt from their conclusion: “As an added bonus, the camera provides users extreme value, as noted through its DxOMark sensor score of 94, which puts it in an elite category currently occupied by two additional Nikon cameras”.
Looks like the sensor on the Nikon D600 is almost as remarkable as the one on the Nikon D800. The overall score of the sensor was just one point below the Nikon D800 and two points below the Nikon D800E (which has the same sensor as the D800, but a different anti-aliasing filter).
Here is a comparison of the D600 with the D800 and D4:
Very impressive! Take a look at the Low-Light ISO figures – the D600 has the highest score there. Detailed image analysis and comparisons will be provided this week.
Here is another quick specifications comparison between the new Nikon D600 and the D800 that was announced earlier in 2012. I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the resolution king, the D800, and the $900 cheaper D600. Looks like both cameras are quickly becoming popular among many amateur and professional photographers, so what feature advantages does the former offer over the latter? Let’s take a look in this Nikon D600 vs D800 comparison. Please keep in mind that this comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is provided in the Nikon D600 Review right here.