Category: Nikon D800e

AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm ƒ3.4-4.5 VRII Lens Test on a D800E

I love my prime lenses and I love the whole approach to using primes: choosing specific focal lengths to capture specific perspectives then moving to carefully compose the photograph to make best use of the film or sensor perspectives. The alternative is a zoom lens.

Zooms have their place too. While travelling around Africa, Europe and the UK, I found my two zooms, which covered the complete focal length range from 24mm to 400mm, ideal for quick hand-held shots in a rapidly changing environment. They were both Zuiko Digital zooms and simply the best combination out there. In fact, the only reason I moved away from them was Olympus’ reticence (or lack of R&D) in coming out with a sensor with enough pixels to emulate the detail I enjoy with 6×7 and 4×5 photography.

However, since switching to the Nikon D800E and prime lenses, I have, on a few occasions, missed having the flexibility of a zoom lens, especially when shooting family snaps and shots around the school. Now, the D800E is definite overkill for snaps – quite often I have it set to capture 9MP jpegs. And, perhaps buying a zoom lens for this camera is a bit dumb as I could buy a decent point and shoot that has greater range for less than the cost of a good zoom. However, it’s also nice to have the flexibility of an excellent auto-focus, zero shutter delay and, if needed, 36mp (which, by the way, is great for cropping sports photos when the action is on the other side of the field – even when using a300mm lens!).

So what did I do? I have a wonderful family who generously assisted with my purchase of the newest Nikkor zoom, an AF-S 24-85mm ƒ3.5-4.5 VRII. The focal range is almost ideal. I would have preferred stretching it to at least 100mm as my previous zoom was a 24-120 Zuiko Digital and it was ideal. The Nikkor is also a bit slow, but when you put it in perspective, this lens covers four times the sensor size as the Zuiko 4:3s lenses, so losing half a stop and 1/3 in focal length isn’t really a big deal. If 85mm isn’t quite long enough, I can always crop with plenty of pixels “to spare”.

But how is the lens quality. I always fell that when you choose a zoom lens, it’s not for quality, but rather for convenience, so I always expect to give up some lens quality. That being said, my primes are not necessarily Nikon’s best: they are all AF-D (older designs) and cheaper builds than the newer ones. I have a 24mm ƒ2.8, a 28mm ƒ2.8, a 50mm ƒ1.8 and a 105 Micro ƒ2.8. So it was against these lenses that I would test the new zoom.

This afternoon, I set up the tripod and electronic release, set the camera to ISO 100 with Mirror Lock-up and full frame raw capture and shot a series with each lens at wide open, ƒ11 (my most-used aperture) and closed down. It was really ƒ11 that is most important to me. I know lenses are a bit mushy at larger apertures and go soft at smaller apertures due to refraction, so those are the details I will show here.

Observations

I’ll not go into a detailed account of each focal length and aperture. You can see for yourself, the differences between the primes and the 24-85mm zoom as I have included a small gallery of comparisons at each focal length at ƒ11, showing the corners only. In the gallery are comparisons at 100% of the top right corner in Lightroom’s “Compare” mode. The files have had no additional processing or sharpening. NOTE: When you look at the gallery images, be sure to click on “View Full Size” in the bottom right of the window that opens.

Needless to say, the centre of each frame is quite good and not significantly different at comparable focal lengths and apertures. What is most important to me are the corners as that is where a lens falls apart. The 24-85mm zoom didn’t disappoint, but it didn’t match the quality of the primes, either. As expected, the zoom showed more light fall-off in the corners, but quite unexpectedly, it did rather well up against the 105mm Micro-Nikkor. I also didn’t expect the 50mm ƒ1.8 to perform as well as it did – it looks great in the corners.

One unexpected difference was in colour saturation and exposure. While the primes had slightly higher contrast (as expected), the zoom has slightly richer colours which may be a result of exposures from the zoom being 1/3 to 3/4 of a stop darker. Not a big problem, but unexpected. Perhaps the stated maximum aperture of the zoom is not as wide as claimed meaning the ƒ3.5 is really a ƒ4 or 4.5. That is one real bonus of prime lenses – they are generally faster than zooms in the sae relative price range and primes are of higher quality at maximum aperture.

So, is the AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm VRII lens good enough to walk around with? Yes it is – just. I am well aware of its shortcomings – which are not too serious, really – and plan to make good use of this lens. However, I will not be using it for my dedicated landscape and nature shots. I will forego the convenience of having a range of focal lengths in one lens and will gladly switch primes when I feel the shot really deserves the kind of quality I can get from prime lenses.

Tethered shooting with a Nikon D800e

It’s frustrating to learn that Adobe has dropped the ball with respect to tethered shooting. Tethered shooting allows you to connect the camera directly to your computer so that as you shoot, the images appear on screen. It’s a set-up studio photographers frequently use and one I am only tangentially interested in as I don’t make it habit of lugging my laptop out into the wilds for tethered shooting!

Nikon D800e w/ AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED; ƒ4.5 @ 1/1250, ISO1600

Be that as it may, it is lovely summer morning on the deck with an inquisitive chipmunk as my subject to get tethered shooting working. As a Lightroom user, I was excited to try this out… only to discover Lightroom doesn’t (yet?!) support tethered shooting for the Nikon D800/D800e or D4. A quick online search reveals that Capture One supports it, Aperture supports it, even onOne Software supports it. Why Adobe doesn’t is anyone’s guess. Even the latest version of Lightroom which came out after the D800 – version 4.1 – doesn’t support it.

I own Aperture, but I don’t really want to have a second photo processing/database app on the go. I prefer to keep things simple by using Lightroom, so I won’t be purchasing Capture1 either (although, it sounds like I should as its raw engine produces superior results to Lightroom). This led me to onOne Software. I have OnOne’s “Perfect Photo Suite” of applications but, being more of a “realist” when shooting nature, I have never felt drawn to the product, nor yet had the need of Layers for Lightroom. However, onOne  does offer a DSLR Camera Remote for iPad and iPhone. The app comes in two parts – the Server that’s loaded onto your computer and the App itself for the iPad or iPhone. Downloading the Server – which is free – allows you to shoot tethered to your computer without having to purchase the app for you mobile device.

And – best of all – it works! Within 2 minutes of downloading, I had it and Lightroom set up so that as each exposure is made, the file appears on screen in Lightroom. While I can’t control the camera remotely – I would need to purchase the iPad or iPhone app for that – the Remote Server tethering works perfectly well – as you can see from the photo above!

When you first open onOne DSLR Camera Remote Server, it creates a download folder for you. You can create your own folder or go with the one created. Lightroom itself was easy enough to set up. Under File, choose Auto Import > Auto Import Settings… and point LR to the folder created by Remote Server. LR will automatically move the photos from there to a folder you create. This can all be customized for each shoot you do, right down to the file names.

Anyway, technical gymnastics aside (it’s really only a cartwheel to get you started, nothing like we saw in the Olympics!), tethered shooting is easy to do. For me, I doubt I will use it often, but it’s a great facility to have available. Try it…You’ll like it!

Update

With the recent release of Lightroom 4.2, you can now shoot tethered directly with Lightroom. Thanks Adobe for playing catch-up!

More from Wellington County

More scouting trips around Wellington County. Last Friday, it lead to a wonderful piece of pie at Marj’s in Alma. If you haven’t been, it’s a must! Marj’s is a classic village diner with great service, great food and, most important of all, great, home-made pies.

The photos I’m showing you are not final cuts, but rather works in progress. Some will never see the light of day as they are location “snaps”. I find it helpful to shoot a location when I know it’s not the ideal time, but want to keep a record of what it looks like and its exact location using Lightroom Maps module and the GPS unit on my camera.

You will notice that some of the photos are “blurred”. They are the product of the work I am doing with motion landscapes – photographs that capture varying degrees of motion to give us fleeting glimpses of shapes, colours and textures. They, too, are a work in progress! Final note: all photos are processed in Lightroom 4.1

Enjoy!

Landscapes of Wellington County

For a while now, one of the projects I’ve been working on is a series of landscapes of Wellington County. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, Wellington County is an hour west of Toronto and surrounds the city of Guelph (about 120,000) and the towns of Erin, Fergus and Elora with a hodge-podge of townships trending northwest from there. Predominantly farmland with few natural areas, Wellington County is bisected by the Grand River and some of its tributaries, namely the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. It’s not exactly Madison County with its various bridges, but, there are a few places where the river courses are quite photogenic. As well, Elora Gorge offers some great photographic potential.

There is not much in the way of topography, though, with the highest point being Starkey Hill, just east of Arkell (southeast of Guelph) atop the Guelph Moraine, part of the Galt-Paris Moraine complex left over from the last glacial period. The Grand River valley also provides some topography, but with most of the land being private and the natural areas being either wetland or forest, there are few “vistas” ideal for landscapes.

If I could photograph only one thing, it would be landscapes – those broad, sweeping, three-dimensional vistas filled with  detail that start at my feet and extend to the horizon. However, to really work, they require just the right combination of timing for vegetation and lighting – that dramatic moment that says something more than “I was here”. And, more often than not, landscapes are at their most stunning when I’m on my way somewhere else and can’t stop to photograph. Such is life… Needless to say, my landscapes of Wellington County continues to been a long-term project.

Yesterday morning I made a point of doing some exploring to re-familiarize myself with some spots I hadn’t been to in some time. It was a fine summer morning still fresh after Sunday’s rain. Thank goodness for the rain over the last week, otherwise the river courses would have been nearly dry. I worked in the area just north and east of Guelph – the Eramosa Township area.

Field techniques included, as usual, a Nikon D800e mounted on Manfrotto 055 legs and head, mirror lock-up and an electronic release. Shooting data for each photograph is in the caption. The raw image files were processed using Lightroom 4.1

Here are a few from yesterday…

Waxing Crescent Moon

Last night was a clear night so I thought I would put the D800e to the test by photographing the waxing crescent moon. I should have been out a 1/2 hour earlier to keep some of the dusk sky colour, but such is family life.

Settings: Nikkor 300mm ƒ4 AF-S IF-ED; ƒ5.6 @ 1/60; ISO200; no filter; on a sturdy tripod & head & MLU; NEF 14-bit raw capture. Each image is cropped to 100% (1 pixel on the jpeg = 1 pixel on the sensor). I tried a few different exposures to get just the right balance of shutter speed without losing highlights. You see, since Earth is spinning, a fast enough shutter speed is needed to stop any motion. when I opened the photos in Lightroom, I noticed that ƒ5.6 is slightly sharper and has no chromatic aberration compared to ƒ4.

For comparison sake, I have included what I have called “Normal” processing to enhance this specific image to my liking as well as the original Unmanipulated raw file.  Frankly, I am amazed at the detail and sharpness of even the unmanipulated raw file at 100%. Also, there appears to be some significant Highlight “headroom” compared to Nikon’s blinking highlights as the right edge of the moon was blinking on the LCD preview. I’m aware of the inaccuracies of the Preview image on the LCD, but was surprised by how much is actually there “behind” the blinking highlights. When imported into LR, there were no clipped highlights – a function of LR’s reading of the image file.

Here are the photographs. to see them at full resolution, try right-clicking on a photo and selecting “Open in new Tab”.

– Enjoy!

Processed in LR
Unmanipulated direct from raw file

Golden Summer Morning

I left early for work Thursday morning to capture this landscape. I was probably 1/2 hour later than I should have been, but here is what moved me.

Nikon D800e w/ Nikkor 20mm AF-D lens; ƒ/22 @ 1/30; ISO100; Lightroom 4.1 post-capture processing

The Nikon D800e and ISO

In various reviews, one of the “jaw dropping” features of the Nikon D800e that has been identified is its amazing image quality, not just at ISO200 and 400, but all the way up to ISO 3200. I thought I would put it to the test under conditions that are, for a nature and landscape photographer, somewhat “normal” to ideal. Yesterday morning was one of those perfect early summer mornings with soft lighting and no wind. It would have been nice to have a little more dew, but hey, when it comes to nature, you take what you can get and say “Thank you!”

The photographs were made using a Nikkor 20mm ƒ2.8 AF-D lens mounted on sturdy Manfrotto 055 legs with a heavy duty head. They were exposed using mirror lock-up and an electronic release. They were shot at ƒ22 – typical for landscape work where I want everything from the immediate foreground to the “far hills” in focus. ƒ22 does introduce diffraction issues, but more on that in my next post.

The 100% crops were all taken from the centre of each frame as I am trying to show how the camera performs, not the lens. The 20mm is a great all-around wideangle – a focal length I love for landscapes – but it does have chromatic aberration issues in the corners that need a bit of TLC to correct.

Shown below is a series for each of the ISO200, 800 and 3200 shots. The images have been processed in Lightroom 4.1, all in the same way at default sharpening. The values are shown for each photo in theLR  panel at the right of each screen capture. You will see Full image views of each photo plus a view at 100% for the pixel peepers and a view at 50% for the realists. I then applied what I would call “appropriate” sharpening to each image to bring out its best qualities and there is a 100% view of each. Yes, the sharpening is different for each, but that’s what one would expect when working to achieve highest image quality at each ISO.

So, now you can be the judge. How well does the D800e hold up at different ISOs? While you can click on an image and scroll through the gallery one at a time, once you are in the gallery, you can also right-click on an image and select “Open Image in New Window” or “Open Image in New Tab”. That way you can do direct comparisons right in your browser. Alternatively, from within the gallery, you can right-click and choose “Save Image As…” (or whatever the equivalent is in Windows).

If you’re like me, you just might be somewhat astounded at what the D800e can do at ISO3200. Under ideal conditions (“normal contrast”, properly exposed images with no excessive recovery of lost detail in shadows which generates noise) and with appropriate sharpening, it is possible to achieve truly printable images at high ISO. In this case, “truly printable” includes large format prints as ISO3200 at 50% and even 100% is pretty amazing.

Nikon D800e – OMG!

Between household chores today, I’ve managed to spend some time working with the D800e photographs I made early this morning. “The sound of jaws hitting the floor” is an understatement. The results are fabulous – more fabulous than my Nikkor 20mm lens and more fabulous than the now apparent diffraction at small apertures with the Micro Nikkor 105mm. Oooops! What they’ve said all along is absolutely correct: the D800e will show all the flaws like you’ve never seen them before.

My shooting technique involves sturdy Manfrotto 055 tripod legs with a head heavy-duty enough for my 4×5 wood field camera. I religiously use mirror lock-up and an electronic release. I also expose to the right to drive exposure up into the most valued area of the histogram (so that signal is significantly greater than noise resulting in cleaner images once processed).

This morning was designed for nature photography – beautiful soft light before sunrise and after, with not a breath of wind. I could take my time to look and compose and look again then set up for the exposure. I didn’t use LiveView for focussing this time, but instead made use of the hyperfocal distance markings on the 20mm – the markings limited (up to ƒ11), but still helpful. I should have used LiveView for focussing the milkweed flowers with the 105mm as I notice I am few millimetres out of perfect focus.

Presented below are four photographs from today I’ve spent some time working on. They were processed through Lightroom 4.1 using any and all of the tools necessary to recreate the scenes as I experienced them and wish to portray them. They are not “finished” by any means; no doubt when I re-vist these photographs a week or a month from now, I will look at them differently and make the necessary improvements, but here they are as they exist now. While I’m not the expert in LR as are others like Michael Reichman, Jeff Schewe, et. al., as an LR Instructor at Mohawk College In Hamilton, I think I have a fair command of it. I have made various and best use of adjustments in the Basic Panel (including Gard Filters, Adjustment Brushes and Spot Removal as needed), as well as sharpening in the Detail panel and Lens Corrections built in for the Nikkor 20mm AF-D lens.

Paired with each photograph is a 100% crop of the centre of the frame. This will be useful for those interested in seeing what the D800e is capable of under near ideal conditions. I’ve provided the centre crop only as this is a review of the camera, not the lenses. That being said, the flaws with the 20mm including chromatic aberration towards the corners, become readily apparent. As well, the effects of diffraction begin to appear (as you will see in the milkweed flowers at 100%), but that’s for another post. In the meantime, have a look. If you want to see the photos at maximum size, when in “gallery mode” (dark screen), right-click and choose “Open Image in New Window” or “Open Image in New Tab”.

My Nikon D800e has arrived and…

…I’ve started putting it through its paces. [Many thanks to Lan at Vistek Mississauga for finally getting one of these into my hands!] I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that, at least for me, this is the dawn of a new era in photography. Sorry for the melodrama, but I’ve been using 4:3s DSLRs since I switched from 35mm and while I can state unequivocally that I made some absolutely wonderful images with them, I always felt just a little hampered with the lack of fine detail I had become used to when shooting 6×7 and 4×5 (and 35mm Velvia). It would appear the D800e might just bridge that IQ gap I have been missing.

This morning I was out before dawn putting the camera through its first paces and am just now sitting on the deck waiting for the images to upload to my computer. As background, I am using a MacBook Pro (mid-2011) 2 GH Intel Core i7 with 8 GB of ram. As the D800e has two card slots, I have put into the CF slot a Lexar Professional 32 GB 400X UDMA card (dedicated for video and overspill) and into the SD slot a Lexar Professional 32 GB 400X SD UHS1 card. I am dedicating my raw images to the SD card since I can easily remove it from the camera and plug it directly into the MacBook Pro (I would prefer to be doing that with the CF card, but I guess that would be asking too much of Apple).

So the images have uploaded and didn’t take as long as I expected given that they are all raw files between 40 and 50 MB in size. The 78 images were uploaded in just a few minutes into Lightroom 4.1. This is partly because I have only Medium size jpeg previews made and 1440 pixel previews and a Standard Preview size of 1440 pixels at Medium quality. While this speeds uploads, it does mean that I wait for full-sized previews to be generated upon zooming for the first time in Lightroom.

Equipment

I set out this morning, as usual, with my complete kit of tripod + electronic remote, polarizing and ND3 filters plus lenses: 20/2.8 AF-D, 28/2.8 AF-D, 50/1.8 AF-D, 105/2.8 Micro AF-D and 300/4 AF-S. They are mostly D lenses because I was able to pick them up used for a great price and just couldn’t justify the extra expense for the AF-S versions when the optics are virtually identical (particularly with the 20mm and 105mm Micro-Nikkor). I hardly ever use a 28 or 50, so my key focal lengths are well-covered with near excellent glass and the 105 AF-D is a much more manageable size compared to the AF-S version. AF might be a bit slower, but for most of my work with that lens I am using MF anyway.

Field Experience – so far, anyway…

I have enjoyed the switch from Olympus to Nikon over the past two months, although I greatly miss having both shadow clipping and highlight clipping show in LCD previews. Olympus would show Shadow clipping as blue and Highlight clipping as red just as Lightroom does – I can never figure out why Nikon does’t do the same except that Highlight clipping is much more important to be aware of than Shadow clipping. Also, I miss being able to program the delay between mirror lock-up and shutter activation. Olympus would allow 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 & 10 seconds; the D800e only allows up to 3sec. so I just set the dial to “Mup” and count my own 4 or 5 seconds – no real problem there as it is identical to how I use my Pentax 67.

Everything seems to be in its place for other settings and I haven’t found the camera to be cramped. One thing I did notice right out of the box was how light the camera felt. I am glad of it not being the “professional” size of a D4 or D3 as I much prefer something that is more “backpack-able” and “portage-able”.

I plan to shoot at the base ISO of 200, unless there is a compelling reason to change, as ISO200 does provide the greatest dynamic range. Typically, I shoot using Aperture-Priority (A-mode) as it is aperture that I wish to control more often than shutter speed. I work on a tripod, so unless the wind is blowing, shutter speed is not usually significant.

I am greatly enjoying the much larger viewfinder experience offered by a full-frame camera. There is space to look around! I make constant use of the digital level projected in the viewfinder and find Nikon’s implementation quite good except for one thing – the markings are in black. If they were at the top (as they are when I shoot vertically) then it’s not too bad as they are more often projected against the sky (for landscapes). But with black markings at the bottom, I found they were difficult to see at times. Depressing the shutter release 1/2-way does give a split-sceond of the “ambient-red” look so I can see where I’m at, but I must admit to finding the implementation of the digital level in the viewfinder less helpful than my experience with the Olympus E-30, although the Nikon seems to be slightly more precise with finer markings.

Breakfast is calling. More to come…

Nikon D800 – “Should I upgrade?”

I have been asked by a number of people about whether they should upgrade to a Nikon D800. They are understandably attracted by the amazing potential that this camera holds for higher quality digital photographs and video. Once they get past the shock of its price, they start thinking about that state-of-the-art 36mp sensor – bigger has to be better, right?

Well perhaps, but not for everyone. There are a few things you need to consider before jumping on the D800 bandwagon:

  1. How often do you enlarge photos to 16″ or more? The 36mp sensor in the D800 is 7360 x 4912 pixels. At 300ppi, it will produce uncropped prints of 16.4″ x 24.5″ or at 360ppi (for Epson printers) uncropped prints 13.6″ x 20.4″ in size. If you are making prints this size or larger on a regular basis, then the D800 is for you. Some have asked, “But wouldn’t downsizing from this file size result in better prints as well?” Quite possibly, yes, but the difference at print viewing distance would be minimal and perhaps only visible to someone who really knows what to look for (which is not the vast majority of people who buy large fine art photographs). By the way, I am speaking in terms of uncropped prints, because a photographer who is working towards mastering the craft will routinely compose to either fill-the-frame or at least fill one dimension to allow the other dimension to be cropped. Do you do this as common practice? If not, then perhaps the D800 is not for you.
  2. Do you shoot raw or jpeg format? Many pros shoot jpegs as that’s what their job demands: grip and grins that need to be processed and sent out immediately or news hounds that don’t have time (or the necessity) for post-capture fine-tuning. Even many wedding photogs are still shooting only jpegs. While it may be controversial for me to say this, but if you are shooting jpegs and you are not a pro – in other words if you are shooting jpegs because they are more convenient than doing some post-process work on your photographs – then the D800 may not be for you. The D800 is all about image quality. The photographs you are capable of producing will not improve with more megapixels, only their size will increase. If you are not willing to put the time and effort into fine-tuning raw image files, then the shortcuts you take in producing jpegs may well prevent you from taking full advantage of the benefits the D800 offers. Don’t get me wrong – the D800 produces amazing jpegs, but if it’s only jpegs you want – pre-processed and pre-sharpened with a truncated colour depth – then the D800 is not the ideal machine for you.
  3. Are you prepared for full-frame? This goes along with the next question. Your 18-55mm or 18-200mm zoom will not cut it on the D800 unless you use the camera only in DX mode. If that’s the case, you’d be better off with a D7000. If you are not prepared to upgrade your DX lenses to FX, then don’t consider a D800.
  4. Do you have lenses that will resolve to 36mp? Most of the kit lenses and cheap zooms produced by Nikon and the various 3rd party lens manufacturers will not resolve 36mp well enough from centre to corner to take advantage of the D800 sensor. While they will capture 36mp of data at full-frame, they will not resolve detail in ever one of those 36mp, even if the detail is in the original scene. Like the previous question, if you are not prepared to invest in lenses that resolve 36mp of detail, then you should rethink your decision to buy a D800. For more information, have a look at the work lensrentals.com is doing or the discussions on the Luminous-Landscape Forums here and here.
  5. Is your technique refined enough to get the quality from 36mp you are expecting? A number of D800 users have, in just this short time, realized that to get the most out of the D800 you need impeccable technique. Hand-held shots do not seem to be as sharp as they were with 12mp because even the smallest of movements are now being recorded. Diffraction at f/16 and f/22 is more noticeable. You may find that working on a tripod becomes the norm when using the D800 – would you be happy with that? You may also find (as other D800 users have) that each lens will need its autofocus fine-tuned. As well, many D800 users are making active use of live view for focussing. Are you prepared for that kind of precision?
  6. As a corollary to Q 6. (and there is no insult intended) – would you recognize the additional image quality provided by a D800? Many photographers are quite satisfied with their on-screen results and the prints they are producing. In your current photography, do you recognize that you have reached the image quality potential of your current system? If not, then the D800 is not for you. Do you recognize the flaws in IQ with your current system and wish to go beyond what you can currently achieve? If so, then perhaps the D800 is the way to go.
  7. Are you prepared to buy larger, faster memory cards? A standard raw file from a D800 is almost 75mb. your current 4GB card that may hold nearly 300 12mp raw files will now only hold 53 D800 raw files. Even the jpegs at highest quality are over 20MB in size. You will need to invest in larger capacity memory cards with faster write speeds, not just for raw files, but for video as well.
  8. Is your computer system and image management application up to processing 36mp files? Further to Q. 7, that 75mp raw file you’ve just captured will open in Photoshop at over 200MB – and that’s before you add any layers! Is your system up to manipulating these files? Realistically, however, most serious photographers  will have already migrated to  using a non-destructive workflow offered by Lightroom, Aperture and Capture One. But even there you will notice a speed hit, particularly when it comes to generating 1:1 previews (don’t do this upon Import, but rather only as needed) and when retouching. Be prepared for a slower work-flow!

Your investment of $3000 (+ tax!) for a D800 body may end up costing you a whole lot more if you haven’t thought things through thoroughly. You will need larger, faster memory cards; you may need a few new lenses or at least one of the more expensive high-optical-quality Nikkor zooms (and the circular polarizing and other filters for them); you may need a new computer system or at least a pile more ram. You may also need to invest in Lightroom, Aperture or Capture One to avoid the humungous file sizes generated by a Photoshop workflow. And, if you haven’t already adopted a non-destructive workflow, that may also be a learning curve you need to take on.

My decision to move from my 12mp Olympus to the D800e was not taken lightly. Nor was it taken without a hard look at (a) what style of photography excites me; (b) where I would like to go with my photography; and (c) how well my technique, workflow and equipment fit the requirements of a D800. As I have said before in posts, I come from a background of using manual, mechanical 6×7 and 4×5 cameras with prime lenses. I am quite happy to use a tripod and slow my methods down to squeeze  from every scene as much image quality as possible– in fact, that’s where I thrive. For me, using a D800 will be like going back to my medium and large format days but with the added convenience of digital processing and printing, video capture and, when needed for extra reach from a telephoto, DX capture at 15mp.

I am greatly excited by the prospects and am anxiously awaiting the arrival a D800e body.