I’ll admit it — I was a bit late to the party. While everyone else has been enjoying the brand new D750 and D810, I have been happily stuck with my aging D7000.
Being a student, I am on a student budget. This means that I buy used technology, and I buy old technology. I have nothing against this, though, since older DSLRs are truly dependable machines, and they still are capable of producing wonderful images. Over the course of two years, I have taken 50,000 photos with my D7000, and it doesn’t look a click over 10,000.
When the D800e was released in 2012, I realized that it was the perfect camera for my needs. I print large and fairly often, and I tend to focus on landscapes and macro photography. The only problem with the D800e was the cost.
The D810 release was perfect for me, since it caused the prices of the D800 and D800e to plummet. Although a D810 would be nice for what I do, mainly because of ISO 64 and the improved live view, it wasn’t worth more than $1000 extra (the difference between the D800e and D810 on the used market).
I bought my D800e at less than half of its original price, and it arrived a couple weeks ago. I shot the obligatory focus tests and cat photos, and then I spent last week photographing some scenes during a trip to the beach.
I’ve only really been shooting with the D800e for a week, so I am not qualified to judge it much at this point, but I like it quite a bit. The focusing system is nice — I use manual focus when I’m shooting from a tripod, but I do use autofocus for my lower-magnification macro photos. What I like best about the D800e’s autofocus system is that the focus points are smaller in the viewfinder compared to those on the D7000. The smaller points make it possible to target my focus on, say, a dragonfly’s eye, rather than on its entire head.
Plus, the focusing system is more accurate than the one in my D7000. For the first time, I was able to autofocus on dragonflies in mid-flight. I don’t believe that I could have gotten any of the photos below with my old setup:
I also like that 20×30 inch prints from the D800e don’t look “crunchy” like those from the D7000, and they show far fewer sharpening or noise reduction artifacts at a given print size. I haven’t noticed any real differences in color reproduction, although I do find it noticeably easier to salvage highlights on files from the D800e. Granted, my observations are not particularly scientific.
In total, I use three lenses: a 24mm, a 50mm, and a 105mm. I like that my 50mm lens is now a 50mm lens, and that my 105mm lens is now a 105mm lens. Both of these focal lengths are far more useable, in my opinion, than their 75mm and 150mm equivalent focal lengths on the D7000. This is especially true for landscapes, where I had found both of these lenses were sometimes too tight for the scenes that I wanted to use them (though workarounds existed).
I am ambivalent about my 24mm lens no longer acting as a 35mm equivalent. Although I enjoy finally having a true wide-angle, I had grown attached to the angle of view that I got with the 24mm lens on my D7000. I could always crop a D800e photo 1.5x and have roughly the same number of pixels as the D7000, but that requires a different mindset during capture. I took the vast majority of my best photos with the D7000/24mm lens combination, and I am going to miss it. Call me nostalgic.
There are only two things that I prefer significantly on the D7000: the custom settings and the live-view switch. It was invaluable to have U1 and U2 banks that saved all my settings on the D7000, including those for exposure. I used U1 for my macro photography settings at 1:1 magnification, and I saved U2 as my standard handheld settings. For tripod work, I switched to manual or aperture-priority mode on the mode dial. Now, the memory banks built into the D800e are all but useless to me, since they don’t save exposure information.
Also, although a smaller issue, I don’t like the live-view button on the D800e. It is farther from my hand, so it takes more time to switch between the viewfinder and the LCD screen. It was a subconscious action on the D7000, whereas the D800e requires me to take my hand off the shutter release to reach the live-view button. Big issue? No, but it’s there.
Ultimately, compared to the D7000, I feel confident that the D800e will make it easier to take the pictures I want. I love the detail that I get in the D800e’s prints, and I have found it far easier to focus on my subject in lower-magnification macro photography. It may not be the perfect camera, but, for my needs, it is close. I am excited to think of the photos that lie in my future.
Hello Spencer and PL readers. I am very curious why the choice was in favor of D800E and not D750, since the D750’s price is about the same as D800E’s but its much newer and lighter than D800E.
Spencer, since you wrote that the step in image quality from D7000 to D800E was as big as the step in build fron D5100 to D7000: According to DXO the image quality of D750 and D800E should be quite the same. Is that true or has D800E the better image quality?
For most uses, the D750 is probably the better camera. However, if you use a tripod for most of your shots like I do, the D800e has the benefit of extra pixels and dynamic range. For handheld shooters, or those who don’t print too often, the D750 is just as good — and it has newer features like the tilting screen.
If you are a wedding photographer, for example, the D750 is probably better for a variety of reasons — better autofocus, faster frame rate, better at high ISOs, etc. But if you want to make four-foot wide prints and you have good shot discipline, the D800e does have an image quality advantage.
These are awesome pictures! I love your color gradients on the pictures! I don’t know if that has anything to do with DX/FX but its a beautiful style.
I kinda bought into the whole FX craze probably sooner than I should have (I should’ve mastered more skills on my lil d3200 first) but I really enjoy the wide angle shots and the way they look on the bigger viewfinder. Plus, bokeh for me was a big factor, and I really enjoy the possibilities of shallow DoF.
Congrats for your upgrade. I like very much the last photo of this post. Fortunately for you, Nikon is offering a good Budget FX 35mm f/1.8. That focal distance is very useful.
It is written that your first photo was done at 16/10 shutter speed. Could you explain me what is that ? Sorry, but I’m not good in maths.
Thank you, Kafkiano! I am sorry that this response is a few days late — I just saw your comment today.
16/10 means that the exposure time was 1.6 seconds. It is written as a fraction because the automatic caption generator gets confused by exposures longer than one second : )
very nice pictures and I have already enjoyed your articles on macrophotography and versatility of primes.
I am just an amateur, thought I take photos since I was a teenager, this mean that I take photos for 50 year now !
My first DSLR was a D90. I really enjoyed this camera a lot. My set of lenses was : 18-105; 70-300 and 35 DX.
Last year, just like you I decided to go with FX. I could by a brand new D800 just before the D810 was anouced, this alowed me to have it at a very good price (less than 2000 euros).
Then the tricky questions was of course about the lens. wich could I keep, wich by, wich sell !
I first sold the D90 and the kit lens. During almost 4 months I used mainly the 35DX on FX position. I can tell everyone that it works well. Of course you have some vigneting, but it becomes too strong only when you need to set the aperture at more than f4-5,6. if you crop at 1.2 the vigneting is not a problem anymore.
Then, because I do a lot of landscape I decided to by the 16-35 f4. This is really a verynice lens, perfect for traveling and I find myself using this lens more than all the others. Last cristmass I decided also to sell the 70-300 and by the 85 f1,8 instead. Great lens too !
I may replace the 35DX by a 35FX once, but i dont feel like in a hurry for that !!!
The picture I send is taken with the 35DX on the D800
I am glad that you enjoyed the article! The 16-35mm lens seems like it would be a great travel lens, especially because of its VR.
It doesn’t seem as though any images are attached to your comment. Perhaps try sending them again?
Thanks for your comment!
I try again to send a picture taken with the 35DX, just to show how it performs
Thank you for sharing! There is vignetting in some of those, of course, but definitely not something intrusive in the image. Far less than I would have expected, too.
What an amazing coincidence to find this article at this moment, why ? I just upgraded from a D7000 to a D800 ! Like you I have not yet had much experience with it but it’s evident that there is a huge difference in image quality, the files have so much more information and need much less processing in order to look good.
I only have two FX lenses, the Nikon AF-S 50/1,4 G and a Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL II. The Nikon looks great but the Voigtländer is quite soft in the corners, something that never showed while used on the D7000.
Looking forward to your posts !
That is very interesting, and thanks for sharing. I do find that the D800e’s files are easier to get right with smaller edits (especially in the highlights). It will take me several months before I can extract the best possible images from post-processing, but already I am noticing a positive difference.
I currently own the D7100 and love it. My main photo subjects are working dogs. The autofocus is working great and fast. My upgrade to FX will probably be the D750. I’m just a bit nervous because I got used to my 70-200mm having the tighter angle of view. I finally “know” at which distance I have to be to get a good shot. I think that with a FX I will need to “re-learn” this.
Oh yeah, very nice pics btw!
I just bought two weeks ago the D750, and its 24 mégapixels is much easier to post-processed than my D7100. Because the DX format has a ratio of 1.5 the distance to get the same frame without cropping is asking you to move 1.5 times closer to your subject. But the good point is a 24 mm is a 24 and not a 24X1.5 = 36 mm. Going to an FX format is better for landscape (wider closer) but doesn’t give you the reach you get with the DX. If you crop your FX format by 1.5 X you will see the same thing as having taken the shot with the D7100 but with half the pixels (12 Mpx), or using an easier way is by setting the pic capture in the DX mode . If you don’t want to loose any resolution your last choice is to buy a 1.4X adaptor, not forgetting they only work not on all Nikon lenses, and that you loose around 1,4 stops in aperture, but with the D750 its not a problem.
I am aware of this, it’s just that I got accustomed to a certain working distance. Many of my shots of a dog working are at 200mm. Another choice would be to buy a Tamron 150-600mm or a Nikkor 300mm f4 ;-)
Buying a 1,4X teleconverter will keep you not very far from the distance you have now between your subject and you , while keeping the same 24 Mpx of the D750, but you will loose 1.4 stop so your 70-200 (105-300 on DX) F2.8 will become a 98-280 F5 on the D750, so very close range between them.I own the Tamron, its a beast to carry and hold compared to the 70-200 F2.8. I use it only for distant subjects such as birds, squirrel, etc.
Thank you, Alis!
I have not gotten used to the D800e viewfinder quite yet, since I was so familiar with the field of view from my lenses on the D7000. I know that I can always crop, like Luc said (and in my case, cropping the D800e 1.5x gives me roughly the same resolution as my D7000). Still, it is a mindset that will take some time to adopt.
Good luck, whatever you decide to do!
Congratulations Spencer, and also an encouragement to continue.
I find that your “Dragon at Sunset 1 (image 3 of 7)” is a composition remarkable for the simplicity and alignment of the foreground and the subject on the diagonal. Pleases the eye in terms of aesthetic and rhythmic constructs. An image with only three essentials, without any disturbing element.
The image reveals that you have the four basic qualities for a photographer: 1) creativity, 2) quick thinking and execution, 3) method and 4) mastery of compositional, shooting and post processing techniques, and that you know how to blend naturally your attitudes.
I also like all the pictures shown in this article and in the presentation article, that show an innate talent, good discipline and a certain artistic sensibility.
You should think two or three small small projects to be published, even if only on ebook, although the photo-books do not render well as on paper. In my opinion, it would be a good investment to make your name known.
I recommend you to be greedy for painting, because you can learn a lot from the masters: it is not so far from photography.
A few examples of the importance of light in the background, for which you have predisposition:
Thank you for the kind words!
I am looking into the idea of publishing a project or two, although I do not yet have a body of work in one specific subject that I consider to be large enough.
For a while as I was learning photography, I began to read articles on painting as much as on photography, even though I will never be able to paint well. Since painters design their own images completely (as opposed to finding them, in the case of most genres of photography), I find it interesting to study their compositional choices.
The composition in the last image you showed, in particular, resonates with me. Thank you for sharing those examples.
thanks for your response.
I am old and I have seen many young people destroy their talents. I too have done in part with mine. Your answer reassures me that you will not.
As to the question of the similarities and differences between painting and photography, I had occasion to talk about it a few days ago with a friend of mine, a not well known painter ( www.demetriodonadoni.it ).
Since he came to see me, I have prepared with PS a direct comparison between one of his paintings and a photo that i shoot an year ago:?dl=0
I agree completely — I enjoy photography so much, and I don’t want to lose sight of why I love it.
I think that the similarities in those compositions are very interesting. It is hard to define what makes a photo or painting “pleasing,” but it does seem to be universal. In other words, a pleasing composition in a painting would be similarly well-suited to a photo. I like center compositions.
Thank you for your encouraging words : )
Nice article, and nices pictures! Anyway, quality is always important, it’s really cool that you have got a D800E, a fabulous camera, one of the best, but most important, you have the talent, you have the eye ;-)
Have a nice day!
Thank you, Iann! It is nice to have high-quality equipment, but I agree that “seeing” is always more important.
Congrats, Spencer Cox, on joining the crew at PL and on the upgrade! I’m able to relate to your changes from DX to FX as I did it some 6 months ago. The first thing I noticed is the rapid fire autofocus, better High ISO image & lessernoise Some of my best memories are on the DX! I had a few FX lenses with me so it made life easy: macro 105mm f/2.8VR and telephoto 70-300mm. After that added a Tamron 150-600mm, 50mm f/1.8D and a 20mmf/1.8G. I missed a wide angle lens on the D3200 on my trip to Cape Town just had the kit 18-105mm, used Microsoft ICE for a handheld panorama to good effect. Here’s my reliving of the DX nostalgia with some images from this combo from Cape Town.
Thank you for sharing your images and your perspective, Ravi! I particularly like the second image.
I agree that having a set of FX lenses makes the transition easier. I used to shoot with the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8, but I sold it when I realized that my end goal would always be FX. I guess Nikon’s marketing worked : )
I like having both DX and FX. I have had luck and convenience using all FX lenses 16-35 f4, 35-70 f2.8 and the 80-200 f2.8. (note how I saved money on used older pro lenses?) they interchange on DX to give 24-50 f4, 50-105 f2.8 and 120-300 f2.8 all with no vignetting. I usually set up my FX with the 16-35 and the DX with the 35-70 to start. Most evens will be covered.
It sounds like you have a great system! I am not yet sure how I will be using my three lenses (24, 50, and 105) between my two cameras (D7000 and D800e). Perhaps I will keep the 24mm on the D800 and the 105mm on the D7000, then put the 50mm on either as needed? I definitely need to experiment : )
Thanks for sharing your perspective!