Nikon D800 Shoot

Beauty and the Big File

Finally after months in the making… I can talk about the project in the works since April. I can now call this powerful little package by it’s real name – Nikon D800. It’s been hard to hold my breath for 9 months. Finally I can show you the images and what this camera can do. Let me first just say – 36 MEGAPIXELS. For a guy who likes big images and really, really sharp prints – A 36 megapixel DSLR is astounding.

I have carried a Nikon every day of my life since I was 12. It was cosmically destined that last April my Skype would ping from Tokyo. A distinguished sounding gentleman began asking me questions. “How do you find inspiration? Define the elements of your style. How do you conceive of the futuristic images that you make?” This was a thought provoking conversation. I knew this was going to be an intriguing job. I began secretly test shooting a prototype.

This was a great collaboration with many of the top talented people who bring you these great Nikon cameras – creatives in advertising, art directors, engineers, marketing people, digital imaging experts, film makers and then my own creative crew who help make my pictures come true. It’s been a dream project.

The result of the effort is this test series. The D800 is the culmination of several converging technologies in one precise little body. Technology never moves backwards. That being said, we expect gradual improvements. But sometimes a great leap forward in the experience of making pictures occurs when a new piece of equipment is released. I never imagined the next serious camera from Nikon would be 36 megapixels, and 1080p video. (I am still marveling at the quality I get from a 24.5 Mp Nikon D3x.)

“Shoot what you want…“ Specifically – shoot beauty & fashion applications for the huge files and the impeccable quality it renders. Make a beauty shot, and a location motion shot. Demonstrate dynamic range, colors and quality, detail and resolution.

What great fun. “Showcase and demonstrate the features of the camera.” Each shot was designed to illustrate a specific aspect of the camera.


On the Edge of the Ledge. We needed an identifiable NYC location to make a fashiony shot – with an element of risk. The intent was to show the D800’s integration with the Nikon SB 900’s Creative Lighting System.

Twenty stories up across from the Empire State Building, 800 ISO outside shooting on the roof – fast action. I used three groups of SB900 Speed Lights to illuminate Carol against the Empire State Building as the sun set.

It was rumored that Mike Corrado ran up and down the stairs of the Empire State Building popping a pink Speed Light, but that has not been substantiated.



Beauty and the Beast – A dangerous exotic creature with fashion accessories in a highly tamed environment and then add a big wild cat. The sharpness of the fur (and teeth) and the smoothness of the skin and velvet are key to showing what this camera can do. I used a ring-light for a current flashy look.

Two-tone Lips. A close up of lipstick shows the color saturation and sharpness of the D800.

I opted for AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm F/2.8G ED VR to get in real tight.

To represent the camera – A Leap Forward – Britt leaps from a glass doorway done with smoke and mirrors.

Dynamic Phase Shift demonstrated by shifting the colors on 2 different models, Britt and Anoushka.

Jewelry – Close up of a face – Anoushka with exotic skin, wild hair and details of rich colorful vintage jewelry. This remarkably sharp shot rivals anything I have shot with bigger formats. The detail in the stones and the texture of skin speaks for itself. I doubt I will be sharpening images from this camera.

Dynamic Area Focus

36 million pixels is lots and lots of dots. Piles of pixels at full speed. This shot was a test of the Dynamic Area Focusing system. I shot hand held as the model was moving. These big files tell the story of confident focus.

The Team – Producer (Thank you, Carolyn) , hair dresser, makeup artist, stylist, assistants, animal trainers, computer guys, lighting assistant, camera assistants, film crew, technical advisors from Nikon – and of course great catering.


Every Retail Detail

I worked at length with the advertising agency on shot concepts that would illustrate the features of this camera. We wanted to apply this camera to studio fashion and beauty shoots where large files, details and precision timing are all requirements. 8 shots total.

We did a careful casting – 3 models for the shoot. I assembled a super crew. My assistant, Amos Terry, Nikon afficianado, and a solid speedlight guy, digital guru from Boston University CDIA, Keith Brodie, set up 2 iMac 27s to host the images and manage files in Nikon View NX2 and Capture NX2 – flawlessly I might add, with beautiful color and calibration.

Then the fashion crew included hair dresser Kazunori, make-up artist Bernadine Bibiano from the Judy Casey Agency, stylist Julie Ragolia from Jed Root,Inc., and their assistants and entourage… A great team with a fun purpose – just to put this beauty to the test.

We took our prototype D800s into the studio with great anticipation, and spent one full day prepping before we shot. The very first image zapped through the tether and hit the screen with a WOW. The resolution – first of all – is unprecedented. Testing the camera was nothing short of a delight. Crew members – the hair and make-up people, usually too cool to comment, stood in speechless wonder as the first images came up on the screen. Then there was a Group OMG from the crowd. This was different – not only fat, colorful, and crisp, it held the detail in the bright highlights. The screen images look like a medium format camera but the body handles smoothly and effortlessly like a D700. My Medium Format dreams are answered.

This is a camera for someone who wants extraordinary detail and super fine quality. I used to say that a D3x rivals a medium format camera. The D800 changes my inclination toward anything bigger. It feels and looks similar to a D700 though a little smaller and lighter, with the addition of full 1080P video, and several other great updates.

I chose a variety of the sharpest prime lenses and high quality zooms to optimize the sensor quality test.

  • AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II for the Jewelry shot.
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED for the Empire State Building.
  • AF-S MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8G ED for the Lip Shot.
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED for Beauty and the Beast, and Leap Forward.
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR II for the Color Phase Shift image.

36mp creates characteristics that look different. The file is 7,360 × 4912 pixels. It’s very, very sharp. It holds up to zooming up to 300% without the jiggy edges and pixillation produced by anything smaller. The sharpness is part pixel count and part processing.

The inherent file size can require some unusual treatment. The large capture can make the camera sensitive to vibration more than smaller cameras, requiring faster shutter speeds or a tripod. Even in the studio with flash, I used a tripod on shots done with a 200mm F/2 lens.

Some significant features include:

  • The huge 36 megapixel sensor generating a file that opens in Photoshop at 206 megabites. The sensor can be cropped into 3 size formats.
  • Metering has a 91,000 pixel sensor compared to the 1005 of the D3.
  • Both SD and CF card slots.
  • Bigger LCD, higher def allows bigger brighter image viewing and menu reading.
  • Smoother dynamic range improvements.
  • Color phase shift is improved.
  • 51 point 3D auto focus tracking is updated from the previous version.
  • 1080P Video – We shot continuously for 3 days with a number of bodies to document our entire shoot. The results will be released here.

So read all the tech specs from Nikon themselves. Look at what I have done with it in a few days in the studio. I have now shot with this camera for several months and I can just say that I was dying of anxiety that I couldn’t show anyone what I was doing.

Just need to close with a huge THANK YOU to all the great people, my friends at NIKON, who entrusted me with this amazing assignment. I am humbly honored to head up this one.

73 Responses to Nikon D800 Shoot

  1. sounds fantastic.. were you using the AA filterless D800E version ? or get a chance to try both out ??

  2. can we please have one full res shot to check out please?.. begs begs/// 🙂

  3. im also guessing you had jpgs only to play with ? or did Nikon give you a raw converter to play with also ??

  4. ok so it didn’t take my first comment…you have made a me a fan of Nikon, WOW!

  5. Rob Van Petten says:

    Tony – I used a few D800s in this shoot and at least one had no AA filter. I was shooting both jpeg and RAW at the same time, and processed in Nikon View NX2 updated for the D800.

  6. Jay Nuevelle says:

    Thanks for the great article! What was your experience with the camera at high ISO (800 and above)?

  7. Chris K. says:

    Rob thank you and Cliff for the Images, the D800 looks fantastic and is making want to jump ship from 5DII, but would you prefer the D800 or D800E? also I am assuming the high ISO from the D800 will be worse than the D700 right? thanks;)

  8. Rick Lewis says:

    Rob, thank you for such a spot on evaluation! The D800 looks to be an awesome new addition for Nikon. I’ve had a Nikon in my hands since about 1967 and I’m glad I stuck with them!!

  9. Abhinav says:

    @Rob Van
    Beautiful pictures and your team did a splendid job Loved them 🙂

    Glad they[nikon] choose you on this mission .

    I would loved to see high iso pictures from this camera , Can you tell us about how was it comparing to D700 or D3s in hgih iso arena ?



  10. Mark-Eric C. says:

    Awesome stuff Rob! Makes me want to run out and buy one! One quick question I didnt see answered in your blog. Which ring light was that? It looks like a converted beauty dish! Thanks for your time and inspiration.

  11. Bart F. says:

    @Rob Van Petten
    Beautiful images, especially “On the Edge of the Ledge”, and good examples, too. But what happened to the sky behind Carol? It looks very blotchy for “only” ISO 800.

  12. Brian says:

    Amazing results Rob! Excellent article. I am looking forward to receiving the D800.

  13. Tom says:

    Congratulations Rob for the wonderful pictures. Just one question, how does the D800 compared to D700 at high iso?

  14. Morgan says:

    What about motion blur. That’s my fear with so many megapixels. I would imagine the camera is not very forgiving in that respect.

  15. Devesh Verma says:

    Awesome post Rob, thanks!

    Can you give any pros and cons with the D800 vs D800e regarding video?

  16. Ingarth says:

    when I saw the camera on Dpreview, I made an order and will get it in the end of March. I was searching for files, when I saw your blog. After what I’ve seen and what you’re telling I don’t need to search anymore. Compared to the D3x, is it good to work with the D800 handheld? Did you used the MB-D12 Battery Grip? I was 15 when I got my first Nikon, and I feel like I still am after ordering this camera today! In between there have been some Sinars and Hasselblads, but Nikon has been there all the way! Thanks for sharing your good work! Must have been enchanting doing this fabulous job!

  17. Jay biz says:

    I also shoot fashion and beauty and I am so lost as to which model to buy ( d800/d800E) that i ordered both and plan to cancel one after i get more info. could you please give your opinion of which one you would use for fashion and why? also, do you know which image in your set was shot with the d800E? Thanks for the great write up and taking time to answer questions!

  18. Jeff hall says:

    I can’t buy one unless the high ISO noise is as good as or better than the d700. Please post some comparison images, or do you want to avoid doing that, knowing that the d800 is inferior in that respect?

  19. John says:

    Are you talking about noise at the same OUTPUT size? Because if you downsample the images from the D3x to D3 size they are the same…

    Noise is a function of sensor area and output size. Yes smaller pixels will be noisier, But downsize the image and what noise?

    Plus theres years of technology to add into the equation. So at the same output size, or print, its likely better than the D700.

  20. John says:

    Were all of the samples above shot with the 800? I looked at the EXIF data and they all say D800. I wasn’t sure if the “E” version would show as D800E or not. Thanks! Nice work BTW.

  21. Looks very good indeed!

  22. Marshal says:

    Hey Rob,

    I’d love to see a full size version of Carol in that night shot below the ESB @ 800 ISO!

    None of the sample pics at Nikon’s site are above 640, so I’d like to see what it looks like at 800. That’s a spectacular image anyway.

  23. Mike C says:


    I am also wondering the comparison of high ISO noise vs D700, can you shed us some lights ?

    Also I am shooting mostly landscape and beauty, which model would you recommend ? D800 or D800E ? Not keen to touch up frequently with softwares though.

  24. Paul H. says:

    Rob, thanks for sharing your beautiful images! Your enthusiasm for the D800 is exceeded only by your talent as a photographer.

  25. matt gillis says:

    How do high ISO images at 6400 on the D800 compare to the images at 6400 on the D700?

  26. Jordan says:

    LOL at all these 12 year old kids asking about high iso.

    So lame.

  27. Hi Rob,
    what a nice story and great job. I can’t wait to order a D800 myself. It sounds like THE solution to my wish to have more pixels. I’m using 2 D3s every day, but when I wanted a real good portret I get a D3x for a couple of days at Nikon Netherlands. Never a problem. But I want a camera like this for myself 🙂 Thnxs for this story. It sounds very good ! Have a nice day, Frank

  28. John M says:

    Thanks for sharing. It certainly looks a great leap forward.

    Jordan – why the smug comment? Are you saying that all wedding photographers are 12 year old kids?

    Just because you don’t need something doesn’t mean that others don’t.

  29. Sam Davis says:

    No matter how much $$$ everybody spends on these Nikons and Canons, the BEST shots will always be dependent upon a single element…the Photographer’s EYE !
    That’s why a 12 year old who can ‘see’ the great images, will always be able to beat the Pro with 50 years’ experience and $80,000 in cameras and lenses.

  30. Antonio Muñoz says:

    Are you going to answer some of this questions above? I can see that there´s a common worry, and you can throw some light over it.

  31. tanveer khan says:

    still the skin tones seems to be unnatural

  32. Sam Davis says:

    Re your sarcastic comment to my Comment above, that I “…don’t know anything about cameras…”
    I have been a Nikon Pro for 35 years, currently own several from the D90 and up, have pre-ordered both the D800 and D800e, and am a National Award-winning photographer.
    $$$ doesn’t earn somebody bragging rights.

  33. Rob Van Petten says:

    For those looking for a sample of the RAW file please see this link…


  34. Rob Van Petten says:

    Hi Folks – There have been hundreds of questions in the past 24 hours since this announcement.

    I will try to address as many questions as I can here.

    There are lots of questions about how the D800 compares to the D700.

    Names and numbers aside, these too cameras are not comparable. The D700 is 12 meg, no video – great current camera at a more affordable price than a D3s.

    The D800 crosses over to the more pro-sumer position, with the emphasis on “pro” for studio ISO 100, 36.3mp, with a great 1080P video, improved focus, meter and processor.

    New features include the EXPEED 3 processor, internal 2 exposure HDR, headphone jack, uncompressed HDMI video output, among others.

    There is huge studio application, landscape, portrait and wedding, and fine arts application. By scaling down the format, there is the opportunity to use this for a variety of multi-media applications. Anywhere the intent is high quality, very high res, compact light handling efficiency, still and video with variable formats, and with extremely fast focus and accuracy in metering this camera will solve your problems.

    When I pick this up I am struck by how light, compact and well built it feels. For the file size, I am impressed by how easy it is to handle compared to a D3x (24.5mp) or D3s.

    It’s a member of the new generation of Nikon bodies that feel lighter, smaller and well sealed from moisture, and dust.

    There is a lot of discussion about comparing this with a medium format camera. There are a lot of comparisons for good reason. This file, and the prints made from it look like a medium format more than a DSLR. It’s faster, more manageable, more affordable with better focus, speed and metering than any of them.

    I shoot in the studio and location for fashion and beauty assignments. Most of my images are at 100 ISO with lights, to optimize the image quality. That’s my style. I chose to shoot the very same way with the D800 to see how it responds under those same studio conditions. There are many other applications for the vast features of this terrific little camera. Stay tuned… I’ll be experimenting and posting here…

    I will be releasing more images from the D800 shortly. Please also see my friend Cliff Mautner’s images at:

  35. Niels Kristian Bitsch says:

    Hi there.. Nice post :). I was thinking.. I really want to see one of those raw files.. would it be possible for you to send me a NEF file?

    All the best

  36. Rob Van Petten says:

    Niels – Please see this site for a look at the RAW file.

  37. Kevin S says:

    Great write up. I’ve been struggling with do I or don’t I need or want 36 mega pixels. I’d have liked to see the native hi ISO of the D4 on the D800 with a lower resolution and then had the E or an X to give the 36 mega pixels.

    Shame still can’t choose if I get one or not yet need to rent and play with it I guess.

  38. Sultan Ghahtani says:

    I am assuming this is the D800 not D800E. I am going to get the E version. My question, will Nikon Glass be acceptable. I have all your lenses that you used, plus the 135DC lens….

  39. Marshal says:

    Rob, when you gave the link below and said that, I was very much under the impression we’d be able to actually download a copy of the RAW file for that image.

    “Niels – Please see this site for a look at the RAW file.”

  40. Jay biz says:

    I have always used CF and im not in the loop of the new SD tech. Is there any reason why I wouldn’t want to use a (95 MB/s Read, 90 MB/s Write) SD card vs a (90MB/s) CF card with the D800? Considering the SD cards are cheaper and I can use it directly in a macbook pro, it seems like a no brainier unless I am missing something.

    question 2. say a laptop has USB3 ..would it be faster to transfer RAW files via usb3 direct from the camera, or just taking out the SD card and plugging it right into the computer slot?

  41. Maurice M says:


    Was your BTS video shot using a D800 or a different camera?

  42. Derek says:

    Hi Rob
    You mentioned above that “The sensor can be cropped into 3 size formats”. Does this mean for NEF shooting in FX format (36×24) I can choose from the following sizes;:
    7,360 × 4,912 (L),
    5,520 × 3,680 (M),
    3,680 × 2,456 (S,
    So 36MP, 20MP or 9MP. Is this correct?

  43. Rob Van Petten says:

    Jay biz –
    CD are more expensive and quite a bit faster if you compare the speeds.

    Sandisk Extreme Pro Cards are 90MB/
    Sandisk Extreme 60MB/s

    SD cards

    Sandisk Extreme Pro Cards are 45MB/s
    Sandisk Extreme are 30MB/s

    Regarding USB3.

    I am not an engineer, but I would guess that downloading through a USB3 to the computer or loading your card directly into the computer would be the same. That’s just a difference in connection. I haven’t run any tests and I probably never would. USB3 is fast and at some time during the day you need to take that download time to get a coffee and hit the men’s room.

  44. Rob Van Petten says:

    Maurice M – Yes – The BTS video was shot with a number D800s.

  45. I’m a long time Nikon user and I love Nikon. But I have a big concern: when is Nikon going to address fake skin tones? People are orange when photographed with Nikon. How is it possible to compare full frame cameras with Nikon when the later renders people orange?

  46. Rob Van Petten says:

    Gabriel Hadarean – If your skin tone is orange, maybe you need to adjust your picture control settings, white balance or fine tune your LCD. Skin tone results are as varied as the styles of the photographers who use them.

  47. Gabriel Hadarean says:

    I’m looking at a 27 calibrated Apple monitor, not the best but good enough. Britt jumping through the glass door looks orange. Now i understand that this might have been your personal choice as a photographer, but i get the same skin color shoting a grey card and that is not a fair representation. Not many real people are this orange in real world. True color should be acurate shooting with a grey card. Fashion spreads favor desaturated looks these days and I have to wang my colors in ACR just to get a fair representation and to desaturate more I have to double the wanging. I belive that the software for skin needs a second look from Nikon, just to get rid of the orange excess.

  48. John M says:

    I don’t agree one bit Gabriel. You can get fabulous skin tones from Nikon -you just use need to use your eyes.

  49. Question to Gabriel,

    just wondering how old is your monitor and how old is your spider ?

    Britt looks fine to me on my early 2011 macbook pro – making me think its your monitor or your spider thats out of date. you know spiders have a very limited life span of only a year or two before they are trashed and need a new one? the dye they use in the ccd of those things degrade over time very quickly and need to be replaced every two years max.

    also with LCD monitors if your face isnt sitting in directly the middle of the screen, your not looking at the right colours at all – if you tilt your screen up and down you’ll see what i mean.. the screen on LCDs needs to be head height also and you need to be mindful of the ambient colour temp and brightness around your workstation.

    I looked at your images on your site and every single one of them are right off – you even have different skin colours on side by side shots of the same model/subject in the same shoot/pose/room etc.. which brings to my mind something is wrong somewhere and maybe you need to go view your own profile on a different workstation to see for yourself just how far off your images all are?

    🙂 godspeed

  50. Mat says:

    Well, it shows you’re a Nikon (supported/sponsored) guy 😉
    Don’t get me wrong, so am I, but all this MF comparison, come on.. it’s miles away. You can’t just jam a ton of pixels on a small sensor then compare it with MF, it’s never going to happen.
    We use the Hasselblad H4D in the studio I work in and I’ve never ever saw anything remotely close to those images from a 35mm dslr. When I’m comparing your official Nikon prints I got at the press conference.. no comparison, you can see straight away it’s from a dslr. Even the sharpness isn’t close, not to mention the dynamic range.
    I’m a D300 guy, waiting almost 2 years for the D800, but this, sadly, isn’t it. 36Mpx on a sensor this size, give me a break. Pixel pitch is 4.88um, dynamic range still the same or even worse then D700, noise as well. Sad to see Nikon going the old Canon way – pixel count only.
    If Nikon is smart, they should introduce another D800 cam with a normal pixel count, somewhere around 16-20Mpx. This would improve sharpness, noise and even DR.
    People who REALLY need 30+Mpx, use MF not 35mm and Nikon marketing department is never going to change that..

    Now my main question is, should I get a D700 or a used D3… :/

  51. Rob Van Petten says:

    Matt – I’d be careful drawing conclusions this early if I were you. There are only a few people in the world who have seen this camera, and a slight handful who have ever shot with it. All the cameras available at this point are prototypes available to a select few who are qualified to test prototypes. The ones that have only had it for a day or so. I’ve been shooting with it since early in the summer and I’ve been making prints with it. You have not seen any of them, because they have never left this room. I wouldn’t make any quick evaluations yet. I don’t know what prints you are referring to because I have not released any. Your opinion is based on speculation and conjecture and comparison to technology that is years old. From the look of your images you would be better off with a lower res high ISO camera like the D4. Go there.

  52. Mat says:

    Don’t get me wrong Rob, it’s a nice camera, but comparing it to MF is a bit of a ….. well, I’ll say marketing 😉 Looking at the official sample images on Nikon sites, all I can say it, they don’t really impress. Especially when compared to MF.
    As for your prints, there are prints in D800 brochure, 2 A4 images and some smaller ones.

    I soooooo wanted this camera to work, to be my next step before I can afford MF, but I’m afraid I won’t be upgrading. You just can’t cram 36Mpx onto 35mm sensor. And then also say it’s similar to MF. Pixels number isn’t everything, pixel density is more important, same as dynamic range and IQ.
    I won’t even go into lenses, diffraction,.. How many lenses can even hold up to 36Mpx?? Only a tiny few and only the best, top of the line (most expensive) ones.

    Of course I’m keeping my mind open and am waiting to get the cam for a test in a few weeks time, but until then I’ll curse Nikon and their 36Mpx choice 🙂

    As for my needs, I never go above ISO400, so I don’t really need good iso performance. What I need is dynamic range and IQ. Yes, D4 would be a great cam for me, but for that amount.. it’s a bit out of my reach. Could almost get a used MF system for that 😉

    Take care,

  53. Mat says:

    EDIT for my comment above: I didn’t want those words in bold, I meant: “ curse “ and “ never “ …
    Don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression 😉

  54. Rob Van Petten says:

    The images you see on the brochure are layout and place holders at this point. This is not yet been released. You are making qualitative decisions based on your limited knowledge of this technology. I suggested you wait to form any conclusions until you see what the camera does. At this point all anyone has used is a prototype. I don’t want to waste your time or mine debating something you have not yet experienced. So just wait and you may be surprised.

  55. Gavin says:

    Thanks for the great write up on the Nikon D800. I have been waiting for a Long time for this to be released and can’t wait to lay my hands on one.

    Every one is talking about pixel counts and Hi ISO performance in low light however I would like to ask did you have any problems with file size on memory cards and did you have any issues with post processing large files, I noticed that you said when you opened the file in PS it open opened at 206 mb which is huge. Any thoughts.

  56. Marshal says:


    Check out these links below if you’re not convinced yet:

    This shows a couple of 100% crops from a tree Jim Brandenburg shot in France. Click the 2 red outlined boxes inside the main full frame shot. I think more may be on the way judging by that nature beach scene. Brandenburg may have also been the photog behind the night/dusk cityscape scene in Paris linked to at the DPReview site at bottom.

    The middle one was a studio shot by someone, not where he is from, but it is exquisitely sharp. It is actually a D800E pic. A 103MB Tiff, but worth your while to take a look at. You can check all the exposure info in PS for the details. I ran all these and the original stock Nikon D800 samples through 100% setting in PS Smart Sharpen @ 1.0 Radius and was amazed.

  57. David Harrison says:

    Not for me Guys Ill stick with my D7000 for now I so wanted to go back to full frame after selling my original D700 for money reasons but 36 mpxl is far more than I wanted Ill wait till the D700s start to drop in price. The D800 is to slow on the frames per second

  58. Adam Wells says:

    Apart from the snide ’12 yr old’ comment, the majority of people here are asking the same question Rob. Could you please answer ‘how does the 800 rate in high iso compared to the 700’. This is the elephant in the room.

  59. Moe says:

    Hi rob! Since you have been shooting MF cameras for quite a while. what do you do if your pictures have moiré?

  60. Gatis says:

    I wonder if ISO performance becomes better when shooting in medium – (M) size pictures, not full 36MP. Even (S)?

  61. BB says:


    Would like to hear your comments on 800 vs 800e for taking portraits. How much of an issue is moire on people’s clothes?

  62. Rob Van Petten says:

    Moe – The moire issue was never that big a problem in anything I shot with Hasselblad which was my MF camera of choice. (Since the D3x I have not used a MF in over 4 years). Since I am a Photoshop kind of guy, I would try something that selectively blurred or softened only that area that was effected by the moire pattern. I have used DE SPECKLE under the NOISE filter or Gaussian Blur or Smart Blur. Using these filters on a mask selectively is recommended, so the filter can be use and reused. Any tool that actively blurs or aligns the moire area will reduce the pattern. Maybe the blur tools, or maybe even transform the pattern to realign the pattern.

  63. Hi Rob,

    Thanks a lot for sharing all these invaluable info. You have portrayed some stunning images, and model with the Empire State building bg is such an inspiring one.

    Well, I’m into bird photography and forced to do a lot of hand-held shots. Used to get away with many low shutter speed (ranging from 1/30 to 1/125) shots especially in the rain forests of India. My birding setup: D300s with 500mm VR + TC14E. This gives me effective focal length of 1050mm which is really necessary for birds.

    One of the main problem I’m having is lack of focusing speed of current DX cameras, especially initial focus acquisition. Have lost some life time action shots due to this reason. So, I was so pleased to see the inclusion of D4 equivalent advanced focusing system on D800 and that alone gave me the confidence to go ahead and order one as soon as B&H opened the pre-order.

    As a person who has extensively used this camera, I would like to get your frank opinion on two points:

    1) Do you think I will be able to continue with hand-held shots of at least 1/50 to 1/200 range with 500mm + TC14E combo and get usable results?

    2) My favourite area is birds in flight photography, and once again always hand-held. Do you think I can continue to use shutter speed of 1/800 to 1/2000 and get same results?

    Pls share your open views on these points.

    With thanks & regards,
    Dileep Anthikad

    A few hand-held shots @ various shutter speeds:
    1) 1/30

    2) 1/40

    3) 1/80

    4) 1/160

    See the below action shot. It took three to five seconds for the camera to get the initial focus and by then these birds were almost out of the frame.

  64. Stefon says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and a few pictures on this new camera. I must admit that i’m a bit frustrated by this amount of pixels, not for the picture quality but more for the workflow (36Mp means heavy files and more time in post production), especially for people in wedding photography like me.

  65. Khizer Pasha says:

    Question to the Author –
    I am an amateur and in a dilemma as I want to buy either the D4 or the D800. I understand the D4 is a more versatile equipment, but does the D800 offer better image quality than the D4? If so, I might be inclined to go for it, instead of the D4. Please advise.

  66. Erik Bengtson says:


    Is that a flash trigger or wireless transmitter? I would love to hear feedback on transmitter performance with d800 huge file sizes.

  67. Gary Strader says:

    Rob thanks ever so much for you insights, and experience, and knowledge, and patience! While it would seem that many do not understand 36 Megs is for more than larger prints, I fully understand this concept, and the evidence of what it offers is stark viewing the images in your shoot.

    By the way…do you always introduce your models to Cream songs when shooting? :o) Perhaps if more did that we could enjoy the rebirth of great music to set the mood in fashion shoots. :o) Please tell the model the words to the song are “It’s getting near dark, and the lights close their tired eye”…
    Great Going Rob, you are my hero.

  68. Rob Van Petten says:

    Dileep Anthikad

    The motion blur factor with the D800 is real. It is a function of the pixel density on the sensor being so much finer that the subject to sensor alignment is much more critical. I have never used tripods and especially in the studio I have hand held my 200mm F/2 with gripping sharpness. However – with this camera I can not. There is a noticeable difference.

    You ask specifically if you will still be able to shoot 1/50 to 1/200 with a 500mm hand holding. My guess without trying it, would be that you would not be able to escape the vibration with an D800, causing a blur.

    I think shutter speeds of 1/800 to 1/1000 are more likely to get a sharper result.

    A mono pod might give more stability. I had good results with an extremely heavy camera stand (200 lb.) and sand bags to dampen vibration.

    Again I have not tried shooting birds with a 500mm with a TC14E, but if I can’t hold a 70-200mm or a 200mm F/2, a 500 is going to be even harder to hold still.

    You will be happy with the AF speed and locking ability and the focus tracking. Focus is unwavering and precise.


    36.3 mp is a hefty file. At first I was a bit wowed. After a few months it feels quite normal, and like every other hardware upgrade I am disappointed without it now. Remember that you can shoot in medium and small file sizes of 20 and 9 mp which scales down the RAW file and converts to jpeg. That makes it 3 camera sizes in one – but converts to a jpeg. That may be a benefit to wedding shooters and others who shoot jpegs anyway.

    Khizer Pasha

    If you define image quality by resolution and sharpness, the D800’s 36.3 mp file is better and sharper, has more dynamic range, renders skin tones, contours, details in skies, details in shadows and highlights more smoothly and transitions from colors more accurately. These are all functions of file size. The D4 is designed for a higher frame rate and a higher ISO range. The D4 is twice the price too.

    Erik Bengtson

    What you see on my D800 is a Pocket Wizard Plus flash sync. I was using a number of Dynalite Studio flashes and this is the sync. The receivers are built into the power packs. I have used all of the Nikon WT transmitters, and prefer them when I shoot in my studio and location, over tripping myself on a tether to the computer. However, there was no transmitter available for the prototype cameras I have been using up until this point. There is a wifi transmitter for the D800 and will be smaller than the previous radios and attach to the camera body, but I can’t comment on how fast it will transmit because I haven’t used one yet. Definitely on my list. I’m a wifi kind of guy.

    Gary Strader

    Thank you for your comments… This has been a very exciting time. Yes, Cream has been a regular sound track at my studio. Sometimes I’m compelled to play along. Although I’m older than most of the models’ parents, I’m happy to report that many of them request Zepplin, and Jeff Beck, Clapton and appreciate when musicians played actual instruments… Whatever keeps people happy. We sing and dance to everything.

  69. joe lai says:

    good Article.thanks

    • I appreciate that. Seems like a long time ago now. This camera has done
      some amazing work in the hands of some very talented people in the past year. It’s proved to be an exceptionally good creative tool in many ways.
      It’s been a big thrill to be involved.

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