D800 Joins the Family: First Impressions

My last blog only had engagement and wedding pictures. This worked really well as a showcase for my portfolio, but this time around, I also want to talk about other facets of photography and weddings. It'll be for fun, but I'm hoping it appeals to my clients too - I'm not surprised that many of them are keen photographers themselves, so maybe it'll be of some interest and maybe I can throw in some wedding tips along the way.

Today, we're talking about gear. Everyone has heard the cliche, it's not the camera, it's the photographer that makes the photo. While I agree 100%, it's undeniable that playing with new toys is a lot of fun.

A few weeks ago I added a D800 to my ever growing collection of tools. It's my first foray into the current generation of Nikon bodies. I've only shot one engagement session with it so far (which I'll post shortly), but so far so good.

My current D3s and D700, are still great bodies, but their shutter counts are getting to the point where I'm starting to grow paranoid that they'll fail soon. Time for a replacement! Examining the current crop of Nikon cameras, I had two choices, either the D4 or D800. The D4 would seem to be the ideal choice. It's fast, the files aren't too large, and it's the logical progression from the D3s. It's great on all fronts except one: it's a brick of a camera! Having worked with full sized bodies for a few years now, I can tell you that they're great... for a couple hours; not so much when you have two of them slung over your shoulders on 18 hour days. The last thing I want is fatigue creeping in and affecting my shots. That's where the smaller D800 comes in.

Things that stood out for me:

  • Slower frames per second compared to the D3s and D700, but that's a trade off I can work with.
  • Dual cards! Finally! Much more peace of mind knowing that I have instant backups. 
  • Continuous auto focus seems jittery and less confident than my previous bodies, but acceptable.
  • I knew this going in, but the files are huge! Processing time is definitely going to go up.
  • Feels more solid than D700. I'll let you know how it fares after exposing it to the Vancouver rain.

In regards to image quality - yeah, it's fantastic, but truthfully with today's camera tech, I would be hard pressed to tell you which shot came from what camera. The majority of DSLRs on the market are really that good. As a wedding photographer, what concerns me is durability, reliability, and good speedy ergonomics.

I'm looking forward to thoroughly putting it through the paces. I'm not careful with my gear, so it'll be interesting to see if it's as tough as its brothers. Stay tuned for pictures from my first session with the D800.