Cliff Mautner on the Nikon D800
What a few days. It’s amazing how much interest a little piece of metal can produce. As a proud member of the team at Kelby Training, I wanted to share my experience with the D800. This project has been going on for many months. i was approached by my good friends at K&L in Tokyo- Nikon’s agency for decades- and was blown away that they asked me to participate with this project. My job was well defined: Use the D800 in a way that utilizes and highlights the latest features the D800 offers in real world wedding conditions that I’d face week in and week out. Simple, right? Hah. I lost sleep for weeks, literally.
Once the camera arrived back in June, the hardest part was not telling a soul about it. The first image I viewed on my ACD wowed me immediately. Yes, the resolution was astounding. At 36 MP that was expected. However, I’d like to use this space on Scott’s blog to point out a few other features that are seriously being overlooked. The most glaring thing for me is how responsive it is. I didn’t think it was possible for them to improve on the D3S autofocus. However, they did. It as really obvious to me when I was able to focus my Nikkor 85 1.4 in the outer focal points within the viewfinder. These are not cross sensor points, and in the past were not as responsive as I’d have liked. However, they were really “snappy”. That’s the best way to put it. There was no hunting, and no wasted effort when I tried to focus. After the announcement came the other night, I was prepping to take the blog post live, and all of the traffic to my site crashed my server. I had confirmed with Network Solutions, and they assured me there would be no issues. Heh. Their server choked to death. May it rest in peace. I spent yesterday with my web designer, Brock Martin of Infinet Design, getting my site and blog up onto Hostnexus. Things seem to be holding so far. Brock is the best, BTW. So if you’re looking for a web designer….. back to the camera.
In speaking with Scott, after the announcement, I discussed a few of the concerns and comments people were having after looking at my images on the blog. It amazes me that some people actually thought I would post full rez files. At 36MP??? Anyway, I digress. Features that are overlooked- The face recognition for auto exposure. For someone like myself who uses backlight the way I do, it’s a godsend. I had no trouble compensating before using my exposure comp, but this feature actually uses the 91K pixel RGB sensor and identifies the face to where it attempts to expose for just that face. That’s remarkable, and it will help you obtain more accurate exposures… faster than ever before. I also need to add that the dynamic range increase was quite noticeable- especially in the most difficult lighting conditions. Detail in the veil, gown, face, and other areas under tough lighting conditions put this camera to the test. It passed with flying colors. Two different Auto white balances are also really cool. Auto 2 keeps a little more warmth, rather than cooling the image off. I love that. Speed… this camera, even though it’s fires and writes a boatload of information to the card/s, is quite fast. It’s faster than the D3X and it never held me back when firing multiple frames quickly. There are a slew of other little things that are major improvements. The specs are for real. Check them out.
The pixel counters who left some blog comments need to understand that this camera is not gong to replace a D4. It’s it’s own beast. It does things the D4 wont do. The D4 will do things the D800 wont do. My camera of choice for capturing weddings will be a combination of the two new pieces of technology. The D4 will be the primary camera. It’s low lighting capabilities, responsiveness, and the overall nature of the camera is ideal for what I do. However, we now have old world, medium format image quality inside a phenomenal, incredibly responsive Nikon body. At 36 megapixels, the D800 produces unprecedented image quality and resolution within a body that boasts revolutionary technological advances. The 3D color matrix meter III, the improved auto focus with more cross sensors, additional dynamic range, and the improved AF performance in low light are just a few features that are glaring improvements. From a focus standpoint, I found it hard to believe there could be improvements to the D3S focus system. But, this camera does focus faster and will allow me to make pictures I couldn’t make before. For those who want to focus on what they think the camera doesn’t do, perhaps you can take a moment and focus on what it CAN do until you have one in your hands, or at least wait until the camera is available. Buy one, or don’t buy one. I wont earn a dime off of the sales of this camera. However, I really believe that I can produce that I never made before with this new technology. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I hope you stop by my blog and see what I’ve done with this camera. I only had it a few short weeks. However, I have both new cameras on order with my buddy Jeff Snyder at Adorama. That’s right. I will be paying for both a D4, and the D800.
One more thing. Many people have been asking me about whether they should go for the D800 or the D800E. Many feel as though the “E” is somehow “better” because it doesn’t have the AA filter. However, unless you’re adept at eliminating moire in post production, you might want to order the D800 and not the “E”. Now, I’m not saying that it’s going to produce much moire. It’s not as if it’s particularly prone to it. When working with files that large, and shooting images that have . However, some people have somehow developed the mindset that the D800 somehow wont produce sharp images. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just my 2 cents since this was a question many were asking. In closing, I hope people find this camera to be as groundbreaking as I think it will be. It’s a fun time to be a photographer, and the evolution of the tools are allowing us to make better images. Thank you, Scott, for sharing your blog and allowing me to give your readers a taste of what’s to come with this camera.
You can see more from Cliff on the Nikon D800 over at his blog.