I have been looking for a new camera for a while. I was quite content using the Nikon D7000 and happy compromising with some of the shortfalls with the camera. Don't get me wrong, the D7000 is a great camera and will accomplish 99% of a photographers needs. However, I was looking for something more. When the specs for the Nikon D800 was released I thought that Nikon must have been eavesdropping on my dreams for the ultimate camera to use for my 'artwork'. For my particular style of photography, I was looking more for a studio camera more than a general purpose camera.
The specs above the D7000 are impressive. A 36mp full frame sensor, Mirror lockup (to limit camera shake when shooting slow shutter speeds) and the ability to save files in an uncompressed TIFF format instead of the god awful RAW format. (While many will talk about the brilliance of RAW, it has the limitation of needing a special CODEC loaded to every computer the file needs to be seen on. TIFF can be read on any computer and is the most user friendly. Why hasn't a camera manufacturer had the foresight to install TIFF before?) The camera also sports a large 3.2 inch rear screen for previewing files.
I also wanted to tryout a new lens. I have been using the 60mm Nikkor Micro for all my past images. On all my past DSLRs, the 60mm lens has a focal length of 90mm because of the small 2/3 sensor. As the D800 has a full frame sensor, the 60mm lens would be a lot wider than on the previous camera. This would be problematic for the way I shoot my images because this would mean that I would have to get a lot closer to the models to photograph them. Closer to the models means a shallower DOF (depth of field/focus) and also being physically closer means that you are in the way of the lights. For me, the 105mm Micro Nikkor was the perfect solution to the problem as I can be a distance away from the figures, giving room for lights, etc.
How did the camera handle in the first camera shoot?...brilliantly. The layout of the camera is intuitive and easy to use. Focus is lightning quick and responsive. The 105mm micro lens is a pin sharp. The camera is a dream to use in the studio. The D800 is a large camera and even more so with the 105mm attached. This is why I call it a 'studio' camera. In this configuration, the camera is bulky and I would hate to have to lug it around the city/national park. But in the studio mounted on a tripod, it is a sexy thing.
In post production, I got the biggest wow factor. Firstly, the files are huge. In my first shoot, I shot about 35 images and this was about 3.5 gig in file size. Wow. The final TIFF file I worked on after I was finished with it came in at about 220mbs in size.
The quality is magnificent. Of course I would say that after investing a lot of money into this camera. However, I really was awestruck at zooming in on the image and not losing quality making cropping and resizing a dream. I was happily working on some detail within an image forgetting that I zoomed in. The sharpness was incredible. When I zoomed back out, the area I was working on was so small, all the work I had done seemed insignificant.
So, what does this mean for me. Well I have a new camera, and being close to the start of a new year brings new ideas, changes to be made, re-shoots of old images. New sensibilities. After a tumultuous year, this is a time to regroup the senses, to move forward. I am looking forward to the challenges of the year ahead. 2013 will be a good year.
And what of the image that I shot during this test of the camera? I am still in the process of post production and will be ready in a couple of days. This will be my first image of 2013 - the first of many.