Nikon D800: Is it worth to get one in 2018/2019?

I´ll let you know from the start. This is not a “technical oriented review” of the D800. Of course, I’ll mention some specifications later on to help you to consider if this camera from 2012 is still a valid candidate by the date you read this lines. But if you want to memorize by heart the D800 specifications, you can find a far more comprehensive review in someone else’s web site.

Thanks for your consideration.

 

The Nikon D800 was announced on February of 2012 and hit the market on March of 2012. It was the start of “the Nikon’s D800 breed line-up”. The Nikon D800E followed it a few weeks later. Today, you can choose to buy the D800/D800E, D810 or the newly released D850.

My personal reasons to buy the D800 over other cameras:

*Full frame sensor (yeah, my first “digital full frame”) Nikon calls it FX.

*100% viewfinder coverage. A 96/98% viewfinder is not a deal-breaker, but having a 100% coverage is even better.

*Image quality. The superb dynamic range that you can get out of the NEF raw files from Nikon is stunning! Of course, a 36.3 megapixels file helps to store lots of data.

*Great low light performance at high ISO values. A welcome feature if you shoot at night with only available light (like often I do). The D800 can hold up the noise very well, even when it has a high megapixel count.

* Minus 2EV focusing: Talking about low light. The Nikon D800 can achieve to lock focus on subjects in -2EV. Another useful feature if you shoot with available light.

*A tough magnesium covered body with weather sealing. It doesn’t mean that you can take the camera and submerged under water. But it should be able to withstand light rain for an “intellect/logical short period of time”.  Your camera, even if is one “cheap one” is an investment and a precision instrument, so you should always take care of it properly. The “weather sealing” feature is there, it’s a plus. But give yourself and your camera a favor and don’t rely a 100% on it.  Always use common sense, so you can enjoy your gear for years to come. If you’re a sponsored professional by any major brand, ignore this.

*Nikkor lenses: I already had a Nikon D7000 (DX) and few Nikon film cameras. Because of that, I have a few lenses stored here and there. If you’re a Nikon user already, you can take advantage of using your glass, even if you’re upgrading from DX (crop sensor) to FX (full frame), the Nikon D800 can use the DX lenses (giving you 15 megapixels files). Although, in that case, you should consider AI/AI-s lenses (manual only) or the D series lenses from Nikon (with autofocus) so you can use and take the benefits of the full frame goodness! Vintage lenses from Nikon can be purchased at reasonable prices on Ebay and they’ll give you back great image quality.

D800 R04 (1 of 1)

 

Lacking features in the D800 (but I don’t need anyway)

*51 autofocus points: Ok, wait…. This feature is actually a great one!! But I always use the main center point to lock focus and then I recompose the frame as I need it. Using film cameras conditioning me that way, I guess. But if you rely in the modern Nikon’s cameras autofocus, then you should be fine with the D800.

* Only 4 frames per second! That is not the end of the world as we know it. Personally, I don’t shoot sports or fast phase subjects/objects. But even if I need it to. I’m sure that I could “capture the moment” in short burst of 3 to 4 seconds. And yes, with only 4 frames per second. It may be difficult, but not impossible. In other scenario, if you shoot sports or some sort of action photography (especially if photography is your income), then you should consider any other model of camera, no matter which brand you choose. It must be a perfect camera for you out there.

Other Considerations.

Camera layout

If you ever used a film Nikon F100 or the digital D700, you’ll be at home with the D800 buttons and control layout. If you’re upgrading from Nikon’s DX cameras, you may get confused from time to time searching for the ISO button, etc, but soon you’ll get used to it. As expected, if you are coming from a different camera system (let’s say “Pentax”), you’ll find a learning curve for a period of time, but nothing difficult to master.

It may be just my point of view, but I prefer the movie record button on the back of the camera next to screen (like the D7000). I think it’s more an intuitive placement for that setting than the upper camera button located next to shutter button of the D800. But again, you’ll get used to it.

 

Video settings.

Today, 4K video and fast frame per second video capabilities are the standard. If you’re looking for 4K video, the D800 is not the camera to go. Nevertheless, it can shoot at 1080p video and 720p. If you choose the 720p, you can shoot at 60 frames per second, the basic setting for slow motion video (at least for walking persons – not for fast moving objects). Of course, 4K is great. But you can always get away with stunning results using 1080p or 720p. It’s all on your vision and creativity, anyway.

 

Image quality.

Well, there is not too much to say here. It’s a full frame sensor with 36.3 megapixels and a decent high ISO performance (regardless the high megapixels density). Besides, you can count on Nikon’s great dynamic range image quality (if you use NEF raw files). The auto white balance gives you accurate tonalities under most shooting scenarios. I have found that my D800 exposes correctly at least 98% of the photos. But it will overexposed 1/3 of a stop if you use old manual AI/AI-s lenses. Matrix metering can’t be achieved if you use vintage lenses. Take notes of that if you’re using manual lenses with your D800 or any other modern D-slr.

 

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RAW NEF file converted to Jpg.

36.3 Megapixels.

36 megapixels was a lot of data in the year 2012 and still is in 2018. In a couple of years, it will be the standard of pixel density (at least for a while). Every year, even the “entry level dslrs” increase the megapixels count (12 mp, 16 mp, 20 mp, 24 mp…. Can you see the pattern?)  Most of us never print our photos “as big as our hearts would like”. But having those kick ass files “just in case” it’s a welcome feature. If you don’t need 36 megapixels, you can always look for a D600/D610. Those cameras have 24 megapixels sensors in a more compact size than the D800.

 

Battery Life:

The D800 uses the EN-EL-15 battery, the same used in the D7000, D600, D610, etc. If you already own a few spare batteries, keep them! If you only have the one that it came with the camera, you’ll have to buy 2 or more batteries (a “must buy” if you’re going out for the weekend) The D800 it’s going to eat up the battery fast. Especially if you record video. Let’s say the D800 would drain the battery 30% faster than the Nikon D7000, approximately.

D800 R00 (1 of 1)

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Who’s the Nikon D800 designed for??

The D800 was designed for studio photographers (portraits, food, products) and for landscape photographers. But it’s suitable for travel (if you don’t mind it’s size) and I dare to say that you can use it for photojournalism, if you don’t care about it´s slow rate of 4 frames per second.  Though, if you want to travel light, you may be interested in the Fuji X series cameras. A personal project that I hope to achieve in this year. I promise to you, I’m going to write about my experiences with the Fuji X series in a near future.

Even when the D800’s autofocus capabilities are suitable for fast tracking, the slow 4 frame per second rate won’t make this camera a top choice for sports or fast moving subjects in photography. Don’t get me wrong. You can still take great sports photos with it, but the D800 is not the perfect tool designed for that purpose in the photography realm. If you’re a sport photographer, you already know that.

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Should I get one D800 in 2018/2019??

Consider this:

Back then in 2012, the D800 cost $2999 (body only). Today, after the release of the Nikon D810 and D850 later on, the D800 can be found on Ebay at $1200 or less. And guess what?? As the time goes by, the price is going to get cheaper. The D810 is out there as a valid option as well. It features a newer processor and slightly improved high ISO image quality, but it’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars more. You can use that extra money to buy lenses or accessories for the D800. Featuring the same sensor, the image quality between both models won’t be perceptible for the naked eye, anyway. The D800 was a revolutionary d-slr when it first came out to the market. Newer camera models are a natural and expected evolution in technology, but they won’t take away the D800’s merits. The Nikon D800 was in 2012, and still is a superb camera. It’s able to capture stunning images and video for a fraction of the cost of the D850. If you’re considering a full frame camera packed with a lot features and for a low cost, the D800 is the way to go.

More sample photos:

D800 R07 (1 of 1)

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Summer bonfire with my friends

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Focusing in low light and using high ISO?? No problem for the D800!

Those were my personal considerations to buy a D800 as my primary camera (in the year 2017). But I don’t make my living from photography. I’m just a hobbyist who likes to write is this blog to kill boredom. Your opinions or actual needs in the photography field, may differ from mine. In any case, I hope this information may help you to make a valid choice.

Thanks for reading!

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Cerro de La Muerte (II parte)

A year later, I went back to the Costa Rica’s second highest mountain to spend one night camping out in the summer sky. This time, I was prepared to withstand the cold temperatures that the night brings ( if you’re at 3300 meters above sea level ).

Now I know that you have to “wear a layering system” instead one single heavy coat. The layering system it’s versatile and it’s truly funtional.

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We arrive in the afternoon to find the camping spot submerged in heavy fog. No need to worry — I said to my friend Jason (in the photo) — I know the fog it’s gonna fade away before nightfall.

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Luckily, I was right. The fog began to fade slowly, revealing a rewarding summer sky.

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At this altitude, either dusk or dawn, will gift you impressive views.

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Before the moon was out.

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After the moon came out. There is not “technical climbing” to summit. A national roadway called “Carretera Interamericana”, pass near to the highest hill of the mountain. Easily you can park your vehicle beside your camping tent.

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Since I couldn’t sleep, I went out to take photos under the moonlight. I wanted to test “the layering system”, anyway. 

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Up in the summit. It’s only gonna take 5 minutes walking in a trail to get you there. Down below, the camping spot, just a few meters away from “Carretera Interamericana” national roadway.

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Surrounding hills. Almost before dawn.

I know I’ll come back to el Cerro de la Muerte (Death’s Mountain). Contrary to many, I enjoy being miserable at cold temperatures in a mountain instead the abrasive heat of the beaches. Even if  you can’t sleep, being out under the stars makes your soul and thoughts humble. It’s a place to find yourself.

 

Thanks for reading!

A night out ( by my own )

The weeks comes and goes. You’re involved in your working routine from monday to friday, and you keep telling yourself: “This weekend I’ll do my best to break monotony.” When you realize, weekend it’s gone and you didn’t nothing but staying at home wasting your life watching Netflix or watching cool photos on some social media application. I say this: If you like videos, grab a camera and go out and record your own footage. If you love photography, it’s ok to search inspiration on the internet, but take the time to create your own photos to express yourself to the world and share the way you see things. Sometimes it’s going to cost you limited time and even physical effort, but in the end, you’re creating your own history and living first hand experiences, not just being an expectador of everyone else’s life on your computer/smartphone. You’ll do something with the time you have given.

That’s why I tried to do something different as soon as I went out of my work this past friday. I carried my backpack to the office with my camera and camping equipment. Some co-workers even made fun of me, but I didn’t care at all. I was decided to break my routine and spend some “mind-cleanser time” by my own in the mountains.

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Early in the nite the moon was out.

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If you’re out there by your own, be prepared for anything.

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At 03:30 am, the moon wasn’t in the sky anymore. So, I could appreciate the stars even clearly 🙂

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At dawn, on my way back home.

Sometimes, changing your routine, it’s all you really need.

Thanks for stopping by!  

 

05.Febrero.2017

My apologies to the native english language readers. This post will be in spanish. A complex, but beautiful language that I invite you to learn.)

Actualización.

Saludos!

No he tenido la oportunidad de realizar publicaciones desde hace ya algún tiempo. Mi pasión por la fotografía ciertamente no ha dejado de existir como tal. No obstante, si bien he logrado adquirir algunas cámaras analógicas para experimentar (incluído ahora el formato de 120 mm); he tenido dificultades en revelar mis recuerdos del 2016 contenidos en películas. Debido a la obtusa burocracia y obsoletos parámetros de mi país (en relación con el libre comercio) siendo que no he podido importar químicos C-41, mismos que son necesarios para tangibilizar el poder compartir las imágenes que dichos negativos protegen como secretos.

(27.Agosto.2017: Actualización: Algunas fotos analógicas ya han sido reveladas, las cuales las compartí al documentar mi viaje al Cerro de la Muerte, utilizando la Nikon F100. )

Si bien, tal situación no me ha sesgado la voluntad de seguir utilizando película analógica, lo cierto del caso es que he tenido que recurrir a mi vieja y confiable Nikon D7000 en aras de poder seguir documentando la vida con mis amigos. De hecho, el retomar la fotografía digital, a su vez la influencia de mi buena amiga y prima Paula, han logrado despertar en mí (nuevamente) el interés de experimentar con cámaras Canon.

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Paula y su Canon 6D

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Yennarow

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San Vicente de Ciudad Quesada, SC, Costa Rica.

Es en la noche cuando se dan la gran mayoría de momentos en los que comparto con mis amigos. Es por ello, que he llegado a adquirir una profunda pasión por la fotografía nocturna. Utilizar diafragmas abiertos, velocidades de obturación lentas y el hecho de llevar el ISO de las cámaras al límite; se ha convertido para mí una segunda naturaleza.

Bajo esas condiciones se debe leer la luz de manera distinta, de manera aplicada en razón de la disponibilidad de la misma. Ante el reto que dicho tipo de fotografía puede representar  y ante la infinita curiosidad (propia de los Acuarianos), constantemente me avoco a investigar sobre modelos de cámaras de diferentes fabricantes; siendo para mi persona la principal prioridad, el desempeño de la cámara en situaciones de poca luz (cuando los valores de ISO deben forzarse a sus más altas escalas).

Recientemente, en un ensayo de la banda Entre Árboles, mi prima Paula me permitió utilizar su Canon 6D. Dicho modelo, cuenta con un sensor digital que es equivalente (en tamaño) a un cuadro de película de 35mm. Tal característica, conlleva como consecuencia, mejor desempeño en altos valores de ISO, mejor degradación de tonalidades y otros aspectos técnicos con los cuales no los quiero aburrir. El punto es que dichas cámaras pueden ver de noche, dando como resultado imágenes muy limpias que en los inicios de la fotografía digital, no hubiesen sido posibles (al menos no, sin sacrificar la calidad de la imagen).

Las siguientes fotografías fueron tomadas en 4000, 5000 & 6400 ISO con un lente de 50mm de F/1.8. La iluminación disponible era solo una leve luz artificial y luces de velas.

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Rubén cantante, fotógrafo, dibujante… una mente creativa!

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Mi amiga Natalia

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6400 ISO

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Maylen

Debido a la rivalidad y competencia entre las distintas marcas de cámaras fotográficas, al existir modelos más recientes con especificaciones técnicas más avanzadas; hoy en día se pueden conseguir de segunda mano cámaras por unos cientos de dólares. A manera de ejemplo cito la Canon 5D MK II, Nikon D700 y Nikon D610, modelos que se vendían por miles de dólares cuando llegaron al mercado, pero al día de hoy sus precios varían entre $650 a $850 en Ebay.

25.Agosto.2017. Actualización: La Nikon D800, la cual en el año 2012 se vendía por más de $3000, al día de hoy se puede comprar por $1200 o menos (Ebay). Al día de hoy, espero con ansias que arribe mi Nikon D800, de la cual hablaré en una publicación posterior.

Las cámaras arriba mencionadas, mantienen una relación de calidad de imagen/precio/durabilidad, que las convierte en excelentes candidatas, si se busca buen equipo fotográfico por bajo precio. Costo que debe verse como una inversión (aún cuando sea un pasatiempo, como en mi caso)  y no como un gasto. Ya que con ellas se podrá documentar la vida por muchos años venideros. Inmortalizar las memorias en imágenes, justifica la inversión.

En cuanto a la fotografía analógica, por supuesto que seguiré utilizando película! En cuanto tenga la oportunidad de revelar los negativos que tengo como pendientes, compartiré las pocas imágenes que mi obstinado perfeccionismo dicte que sean dignas de mostrar.

Gracias por tomar de su tiempo para leer esta publicación!

Atte: Rodolfo Bolaños