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Wetpixel D800 review


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#161 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:10 AM



Long lunch.......


I had to cook and eat it. Plus I didn't even watch the F1 qualifying from Germany!

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#162 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:32 AM

Domes And Lenses For FX
For the last couple of months I have invariably had at least one email or Facebook message each day asking me one or two questions. Should I get a D800 and what wide angle lenses do I need. In fact I have had two today. One while writing this. The short answers are:

Yes, probably. And Sigma 15mm and Nikon 16-35mm.

Just for completeness, the lenses I used in the Red Sea were:
Sigma 15mm, Nikon 16mm, Nikon 16-35mm, Nikon 105mm and Nikon 105mm with Nikon AF-S TC 2 III.

Don't think about using Kenko teleconverters and 10-17mm on the D800. Of course they will work - and the pictures will look great on the web, but you'll be a long way from realising those 36MP and you might as well have stuck with your old camera in that case.

To get the most out of the D800 you need to invest in quality lenses and quality domes. Fail to do so will again mean that your pictures will still come out, they will still look great on the web, but you won't realise the full potential of the 36MP and you might as well have stuck with your old camera.

The downside of this is that it probably means a big heavy dome, which is expensive and a pain to travel with. I used the Zen 230 on this trip and I recommend this dome - or a close to identical one from your manufacturer.

If you only plan to shoot fisheye, you can get away with a smaller dome, but not too small.

Here are some fisheye examples from the D800. The first shot at f/8 of a wide scene with a fisheye and Zen 230 dome:
RS12_am-11602.jpg

It is not a memorable photo ( I mainly shot the schools at f/10-f/13, but this effect is more clearly demonstrated in shots at f/8), but it is sharp across the frame and detail is preserved in the corners - here is crop of the corner (not 100% at all), which again shows details:
crop5.jpg

Now lets look at the mini dome (Zen 100) with the fisheye. Here is the same % of the frame crop showing the corner detail at f/8 - not how detail gets smudged out:
crop6.jpg

Yes, I know this dome is brilliant on DX - and you sold your big dome - but if you want to get the most out of FX you need the big dome back!

There is more detail about this in the video below. But the take home message is if you want to get the most out of the D800 - invest in a large, quality dome. For more background on this watch my talk from DEMA last year:
[vimeo]32130591[/vimeo]

With a big dome you can shoot those big fisheye scenes without the need to stop down, such as when light is limited, on an early morning dive on the Thistlegorm, when the sun is on the stern:
RS12_am-11204.jpg

Alex

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#163 John Bantin

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:33 AM

Alex, I took a picture of the front of my house to compare D700 and D800. Alas, the weather changed the moment I took the first shot (D800). However, tell me if this amount of noise at ISO400 is what you would expect from the crop. I know it's difficult to make these judgements from compressed jpegs over the Internet. If the clouds clear, I'll do it on the D700. (15mm Sigma - my house has straight walls!)

Edit: I rushed out later and took another with the D700 while the lighting was similar although the sun had moved round. EBC files are on the D700.


Well, I think that proves it!

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Edited by John Bantin, 21 July 2012 - 08:09 AM.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#164 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:38 AM

That f/8 shot with the mini dome does not show the smudging that clearly. Here is another example, this time at f/9 - so should be less critical, but shows that smudging of corners is visible with mini dome even when viewing the whole frame:

RS12_am-12018.jpg

And a crop at the same scale as the others:

crop4.jpg

And here is the f/8 corner crop from the big dome, which should be slightly worse from a lens point of view, but ends up better in the corners because of the big dome:

crop5.jpg

I should make two further points on this.
1) this is a not a D800 issue but a FX/FF issue.
2) this does not mean that a mini-dome does not have a role. It does for certain types of shot, particularly when you are close to the subject and the lens can be stopped down. The spawning coral I posted earlier was an example.

But the important point, I think, is that unlike on a DX camera with the 10-17mm, you cannot use a mini-dome as your only dome on FX. Especially if you want to get the most out of the D800.

Alex

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#165 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:43 AM

Alex, I took a picture of the front of my house to compare D700 and D800. Alas, the weather changed the moment I took the first shot (D800). However, tell me if this amount of noise at ISO400 is what you would expect from the crop. I know it's difficult to make these judgements from compressed jpegs over the Internet. If the clouds clear, I'll do it on the D700. (15mm Sigma - my house has straight walls!)


Hi John,

Yep, that is about what I'd expect. Visible noise, but unintrusive. Both the new Nikon's I have tried D4 and D800 give noticeably more noise in underwater shots.

I'd expect your D700 to have much less detail but to be clean from speckles at ISO 400 and ISO 800 at a 100% crop.

But, of course, on the final printed page the D800 will throw away some of its detail and most of this noise and actually end up looking marginally better than the D700.

Alex

p.s. You have the Top Gear hard grad on!

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#166 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:58 AM

A quicky on autofocus. The D800 has great AF. I have shot 4 different D800s now and I don't feel that the AF is a good as the D4. I know that they are identical, but they don't seem so when I used them. I'd love to know what others think (Predrag - I hope you read this).

But before a mountain is made from a molehill, the D800 has great AF, at least as good as the D3.

And it is very hard to find a situation underwater where it won't simply take everything in its stride. I see the difference shooting with telephotos on land. Here is a shot I took in Egypt with the D800 - in bright conditions and with a bird slowly flying alongside the live aboard - which was totally stationary and not moving. I got shots in the end, but I clearly felt the D800 didn't lock and track the birds anywhere near as easily as the D4. In fact I binned about half the pictures I shot immediately.

RS12_am-10780.jpg

Below are some more birds shot from a dive boat, this time a rib, bobbing about in the North Sea in England. Much less light for focusing, birds flying straight at the camera and with the D4 I just pointed and fired and it gobbled them all up.

UK12_am-13473.jpg

UK12_am-13519.jpg

But I would re-stress the point that you have to search far and wide to find a differentiating conditions underwater.

Like the D4 it is very good in low light and this allows us to use teleconverters easily with macro lenses. Good AF-S teleconverters, mind! The nudi further up was taken with the 105mm VR and AF-S 2x TC III.
It is worth noting that with big TCs you will loose some AF functions, such as 3D tracking when the fastest aperture is more than f5.6.

That said I still used fixed focus (AF-ON controlled) when shooting deep inside the wrecks as a focus light always shows up in the photos.
RS12_am-10482.jpg

Alex

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#167 Edward Lai

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:02 AM

I had to cook and eat it. Plus I didn't even watch the F1 qualifying from Germany!


Dear Alex,

You missed the most thrilling and amazing 'wet' F1 qualifying in this season.

Edward

#168 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:04 AM

I am off out now. Going to go and take some underwater pictures (with a D7000) rather than write about them!

Would like to say more about the 16-35mm versus the fisheye. Although the 16-35mm is arguably the worst of Nikon's three wide angle zooms (17-35mm, 14-24mm) it is, for me, clearly the best underwater behind a dome port. But with the resolution of the D800, you could just shoot fisheye and crop and distortion correct.

These are done the old fashioned way as straight shots - top one is 16-35mm, bottom one is fisheye (Nikon 16mm):

RS12_am-10611.jpg

RS12_am-10423.jpg

Alex

Dear Alex,

You missed the most thrilling and amazing 'wet' F1 qualifying in this season.

Edward


I know. But I am sure it will be on all the news here - with Ferrari and Fernando on pole - it might just come up once or twice on Italian TV.

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#169 John Bantin

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:21 AM

p.s. You have the Top Gear hard grad on!


I wasn't attempting to take an award-winning picture. (Do I ever?) I just cropped a bit of sky to reduce lens flare!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#170 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:38 AM

I think with noise and the D800 we just have to re-calibrate what we consider acceptable. With a 12MP Nikon if there was noise visible at 100% in the file, it would be visible in a big (double page) print. In the D800 this is not the case. There has to be a lot of noise present at a 100% before it becomes relevant for the quality of the final product (the print).

Alex

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#171 loftus

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:39 AM

I think the Nauticam looks more complex than it really is. Particularly the back plate looks pretty complex at first glance, but then you realize all those connecting bars are really a simple and elegant way of transferring the position of the controls on the camera to a position that is more ergonomic on the housing, so yes there may be a few more parts, but it translates to a 'no compromise' approach to placement of the housing controls. Unfortunately I had limited use in South Africa, but I have been playing now in the pool, with a few shoots over the next month or two and I'm very pleased so far. My only complaint is the lack of bulkheads; I personally have little use for the fibre optic connections so would prefer to see these changed out or at least easily convertible to bulkheads for electronic connections.
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#172 Alex_Tattersall

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:03 PM

The optical bulkheads are easily replaceable for mini 5-pin, this is what we did for Adam and Alex.
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#173 Drew

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 01:33 PM

Unfortunately I had limited use in South Africa,


Yes well don't you wish you had 6-14fps on that fateful day! :)

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#174 alexiscoram

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 03:57 PM

Sorry I've been diving all day. Amazing follow-up Alex and co. Love all of the images... the Grouper crop is unreal. Love it.

I'll keep thinking on my camera choice. I might go D7000 or just stick with the D700 and use my GoPro for video. Too many options.

Alexis

#175 tdpriest

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:44 AM

I get a D800 and what wide angle lenses do I need? The short answers are:

Yes, probably. And Sigma 15mm and Nikon 16-35mm.


Phew!

And I've got the images to prove that the D800 is a mean 2.5 Megapixel camera with a teleconverter and a fisheye lens...


Tim

Edited by tdpriest, 22 July 2012 - 05:49 AM.


#176 adamhanlon

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 02:31 PM

I've been doing some testing with extensions with the D800/Sigma 15mm/Zen 230mm dome and Nauticam NA-D800 housing. I got pretty soft corners with it in the Red Sea, which I know is not a dome issue as this dome gets great results normally even with rectilinear wide-angle lenses.

I've added a 10mm extension and although the proof is not conclusive yet, it looks like the corners are sharper. I have also added an extension to my mini dome, and at the next opportunity will try this too. I think some of the corner sharpness issues that Alex had with my small dome may be to do with this. I will keep everyone posted about my results as they happen. My results so far do bear out his feelings that the mini dome is not a replacement for a big dome on FX

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#177 StephenFrink

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:34 PM

I've been doing some testing with extensions with the D800/Sigma 15mm/Zen 230mm dome and Nauticam NA-D800 housing. I got pretty soft corners with it in the Red Sea, which I know is not a dome issue as this dome gets great results normally even with rectilinear wide-angle lenses. K

I've added a 10mm extension and although the proof is not conclusive yet, it looks like the corners are sharper. I have also added an extension to my mini dome, and at the next opportunity will try this too. I think some of the corner sharpness issues that Alex had with my small dome may be to do with this. I will keep everyone posted about my results as they happen. My results so far do bear out his feelings that the mini dome is not a replacement for a big dome on FX

Adam


Port extensions and dome choice will always be more demanding of precision with full frame than with cropped sensors. While in Bonaire last week I got terrific results on a Canon 8-15 with a wide port on a 1.3 crop MKIV, while my full frame 5D2 and 1DsMK3 do much better with 9" superdome. If any manufacturer wanted to build the perfect UW camera, a sensor of about 1.2 and 24 mp and 14 frames per second would suit me just fine .)
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#178 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:01 PM

I've been doing some testing with extensions with the D800/Sigma 15mm/Zen 230mm dome and Nauticam NA-D800 housing. I got pretty soft corners with it in the Red Sea, which I know is not a dome issue as this dome gets great results normally even with rectilinear wide-angle lenses.


Hi Adam,

If you are having problems with your Sigma even behind the big dome - I am wondering if maybe the fault is with the lens and not the domes? In my tests, above, all my 230 dome shots were with the Nikon 16mm, as I preferred using that to your shaved 15mm, to minimise the risk of flare.

Also I've done 1000s of FX photos with my Sigma 15mm and for the last couple of years they have almost all been behind the Z230 and I have never needed to use a port extension and always got excellent corner sharpness.

For example, all my fisheye Iceland photos from Silfra in 2011 were taken with the Sigma 15mm and there is no place I know that is more of a challenge for corner sharpness on FX - as with almost limitless viz, if anything is soft, you see it. And they are great into the corners - in no small part because of the Zen 230.

I'd suggest trying a quick test of the Sigma 15mm on land, to at least rule that out, if you've not already done so.

Alex

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#179 John Bantin

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 10:50 PM

Again, not diving but an indication I'm very pleased that Adam persuaded me to buy a D800.
Pictures of the London 2012 Olympic Time Trial with silver medallist Tony Martin moving rather quickly. ISO1600.
(Notice the sweat stream faithfully recorded!)

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Edited by John Bantin, 01 August 2012 - 11:37 PM.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#180 Rene Zuch

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:33 PM

Hi,

I did my first real shots with the D800 in the Red Sea last week. I changed from Canon 7D to Nikon D800, so there was a lot of new things for me (FF and Nikon concept etc).

I used my Ikelite housing with the following lens/port combinations:

1. Nikon 16-35mm & Ikelite 8"Dome

The results with that combination were terrible. The corners are really bad no matter how much I stopped down the aperture.

DSC_5932.jpg


i was really dissapointed and I think there must be something wrong. Maybe the port body was calculated wrong by Ikelite?
DSC_6120.jpg

2. Sigma 15mm with the uwcamerastuff 5" Precision Minidome.

The results were much better, eventhough I found it rather hard to use the flashes without backscatter, especially in non optimal conditions.

DSC_6357.jpg

DSC_6413.jpg

3. Nikon 105mm & Kenko 1.4 & Subsee +10

I had some problems with Macro. I used the Nikon 105mm plus the Kenko 1.4 converter and sometimes the Subsee + 10. Maybe the Kenko 1.4 does not work so well with the 105mm. I had no time to try the 105mm without the Kenko (I went for the maximum).
Especially with the Subsee +10 the cobination was rather hard to use. The DOF is very very small (see pic).

DSC_6461.jpg

In general the D800 did pretty well. I had no issues with the Autofocus. It worked fast and reliable (except Supermakro). The dynamic range is nice to use on pics with sun balls.

I think I have to learn some more about this camera, but I have a good feeling so far. That problem with the 8" port and the 16-35mm Nikon lens must be solved. I will try to find out whats wrong with that. Any useful advice is highly appreciated.

Kind regards
René

Edited by Rene Zuch, 07 August 2012 - 01:33 PM.