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Wetpixel D800 review


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#101 Andrej Belic

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:00 AM

I also enjoy reading the WetPixel camera reviews. I was making suggestions that I thought could make them better.

Adam - perhaps the News announcement of Alex's testing of the D4 in Iceland included the picture of the camera that your link shows. But I just did a quick look of Alex's full story entitled "Nikon D4 Underwater Testing, Live updates from Iceland" as it appears in the digital Slrs/Housings forum. There is no picture of the D4 itself anywhere in that story-forum topic. But there are more than half a dozen pictures of the Nauticam housing or parts of it on the four pages of the field test. So to me, this looks like more of a D4 housing review/promotion than a camera review.

Loftus - I would be happy to do a review of the Seacam D800 housing. And any other D800 housing. I own the D800 and am getting to know what functions and controls I would really want on a housing. But its highly unlikely that Harald would want me to do it. I do NOT just say "Rah, Rah, Rah, Its Great!" about things. I try to look at them critically. If you have seen some of my posts concerning my D700 housing you would have seen that I was not happy that Seacam did NOT have a control for changing the ambient light metering pattern (from spot to matrix to centerweight). And that Paul Kay, a Seacam distributor-dealer immediately countered with the comment that HE used only spot metering with his Canon camera underwater. I also commented that I thought that a brightly colored housing can sometimes cause visually acute marine life to "back off" sooner than a darker housing and had even painted one of my older white F4 Aquatica housings camou and did tests with shrimp gobies. Again Paul rushed to Seacam silver's defense saying that it was probably seeing their reflection in the front of the port that had caused the gobies to dive. I have repeatedly made suggestions to Harald about improving things on first my F5 housings and then my D700 housings. To no avail. This is why I spend time and money making the improvements I want to my own housings.

I feel that controls, and their ease of use, is what really make a quality housing. I have spent about three thousand dollars on each of my two D700 Seacam housings to make the controls more complete and more accessible when your hands are on the handgrips and the camera at your eye in shooting position. The changes I have made would cost far less per housing if they were added to a whole production run of a housing. Or several housings. My cost is so high because I am paying for R&D time and one-off machining of custom parts for just two housings. It is all about having a fine tool that is a joy to use rather than one you have to fight with every time to do things you want to do frequently. Previously, I mentioned my triple control for preview and function buttons and port lock. I also can access flash compensation from the handgrip with one finger - the forefinger of my left hand. When I change from manual focus to an auto-focus mode (S or C), my housings automatically disengage the manual focus gear. The result is a housing that works far more conveniently and faster, allowing me to get the shot on many more of those "one-shot" opportunities than I would otherwise.

As a convenience, I have also incorporated a "remote" camera battery in my D700 housing which allows me to change the camera battery by simply taking off the housing back. In the standard "off the shelf" Seacam D700 housing you must remove the camera completely from the housing to change the battery, which is something that needs to be done every day or two. Now its almost as easy as getting the compact flash card to download the images. I also made adapters so I can use the Nauticam viewfinders on my housing because I value their "in the water" diopter adjustment.

All these advantages are the reason I will first explore the possibility of modifying my D700 housings to accept the D800 before I buy a new D800 housing.

Loftus, you live fairly close to where I live (Sarasota). Why don't we get together sometime and you can see and handle one the housings. And perhaps take it on a dive. And I can explain the logic behind the control changes. I'm currently in South Australia and should get back to Sarasota about August first.

In the meantime, I can take some pictures of one of my housings and post them on WetPixel if there is sufficient interest. And if Adam isn't too concerned that SeaCam will complain or stop advertising on WetPixel. I seem to remember that Adam had at one time said that some of the housing makers didn't want comparisons made between their housing and those of other makes for the same camera. And said they wouldn't advertise if this was done. I would ask, for whose benefit is a housing-camera review - the manufacturer or the reader.

Fred





Can we see some pictures of Your modifications? Or are they to be found elsewhere?

#102 divegypsy

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:10 AM

Andrej,

I've just made it to Bali, from South Australia. Because no one else had expressed any interest in my housing modificatons, I haven't taken any pictures of them yet and haven't posted pictures of them anywhere. Was there any particular control, of those that I mentioned, that you were interested in? Or just the whole "package"? I can take pictures of my housing modifications and post them on wetpixel. But under what category? They aren't really about the D800 or a D800 housing. Should they be under DIY? And the modifications actually have more to do with my shooting philosophy than any particular camera. That being that the things you will want to use most often and fastest, should be accessible when you are holding the camera to your eye. This is why I don't concur with Drew's comment that seems to say that he is happy to scroll thru layers of menu's to make changes. I would miss too many pictures doing that. I want to push a control and turn an input dial. And see the change in the viewfinder immediately.

A very good example of modifying a control in line with that philosophy is accessing what Nikon calls "flash compensation" which alters the output of TTL strobes. On the D700 and D800 this is done by pushing a small button on the side of the camera's prism just below the button you press to make the built in flash pop up.

Seacam has a very short lever with a strong "return" spring to depress the flash comp button on the D700. To make a change in the flash compensation setting, I needed to take my left hand off of the left handgrip to reach and push the Seacam lever. And simultaneously turn the front input dial of the camera, which I normally do with one or two of the fingers on my right hand. by turning the same knob that I use to change the lens aperture. I can not do both things easily and still keep my eye at the viewfinder. So, to see the change I was making in flash comp, which I do very frequently, I first had to push the info button, so that the flash comp setting would appear on the rear LCD while I was holding the flash comp control lever down. And then turn the aperture knob while watching the flash comp. setting on the LCD screen. For me, and most people I think, to shoot several shots with different flash compensations, this took a considerable time and effort. And meant missing photo opportunities when things were happening fairly fast.

I modified the Seacam control by substituting a lengthened lever which I can flip up or down with my left forefinger, while the rest of my left hand is still firmly holding onto the left handgrip of the housing. I also removed the Seacam "return" spring. Now, to access flash compensation, I simply flip the lengthened lever to its down position, which holds the flash comp button down for as long as the lever remains in that down position. And the flash comp setting (between +1 and -3) appears in the D700's viewfinder. Then, when I turn the aperture knob with my right middle or ring finger, I see the flash comp setting change in the camera's viewfinder, with the housing at my eye ready to shoot. When I see the flash comp I want, I can shoot immediately. You don't have to stop depressing the flash comp button to take a shot with Nikon cameras. If I want a second shot at a different flash comp, I simply turn the aperture knob/front input dial until I see the new flash comp I want, and then shoot again. My Ikelite 161's do a full power recycle in 2-3 seconds. TTL is often less. I often change the flash comp fast enough to be ready for the next shot by my strobes are ready. Less time, less effort and fewer shots missed.

Andrej, my email address is fbavendam@hotmail. If you will send me a short note with an email address that I can use to send pictures and explanations to you, I will do it. Not instantly, but within a week or two. And maybe one control modification at a time. I don't want spend too much time on it all at once and take too much time away from diving while I'm in Bali.

Fred

#103 John Bantin

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:32 AM

Here's a really objective test: http://www.youtube.c...etailpage#t=31s

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?

 

#104 Udo van Dongen

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 02:27 AM

Here's a really objective test: http://www.youtube.c...etailpage#t=31s


That is Hilarious!

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#105 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:31 PM

To keep the jovial spirit in these D800 threads going (some of them are getting far too serious) - here is the D800 in action today. Rather flashily I have uploaded this using the wi-fi on out live aboard Whirlwind:

[vimeo]44343068[/vimeo]

Alex

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#106 Andrej Belic

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 03:18 PM

Andrej,

I've just made it to Bali, from South Australia. Because no one else had expressed any interest in my housing modificatons, I haven't taken any pictures of them yet and haven't posted pictures of them anywhere. Was there any particular control, of those that I mentioned, that you were interested in? Or just the whole "package"? I can take pictures of my housing modifications and post them on wetpixel. But under what category? They aren't really about the D800 or a D800 housing. Should they be under DIY? And the modifications actually have more to do with my shooting philosophy than any particular camera. That being that the things you will want to use most often and fastest, should be accessible when you are holding the camera to your eye. This is why I don't concur with Drew's comment that seems to say that he is happy to scroll thru layers of menu's to make changes. I would miss too many pictures doing that. I want to push a control and turn an input dial. And see the change in the viewfinder immediately.

A very good example of modifying a control in line with that philosophy is accessing what Nikon calls "flash compensation" which alters the output of TTL strobes. On the D700 and D800 this is done by pushing a small button on the side of the camera's prism just below the button you press to make the built in flash pop up.

Seacam has a very short lever with a strong "return" spring to depress the flash comp button on the D700. To make a change in the flash compensation setting, I needed to take my left hand off of the left handgrip to reach and push the Seacam lever. And simultaneously turn the front input dial of the camera, which I normally do with one or two of the fingers on my right hand. by turning the same knob that I use to change the lens aperture. I can not do both things easily and still keep my eye at the viewfinder. So, to see the change I was making in flash comp, which I do very frequently, I first had to push the info button, so that the flash comp setting would appear on the rear LCD while I was holding the flash comp control lever down. And then turn the aperture knob while watching the flash comp. setting on the LCD screen. For me, and most people I think, to shoot several shots with different flash compensations, this took a considerable time and effort. And meant missing photo opportunities when things were happening fairly fast.

I modified the Seacam control by substituting a lengthened lever which I can flip up or down with my left forefinger, while the rest of my left hand is still firmly holding onto the left handgrip of the housing. I also removed the Seacam "return" spring. Now, to access flash compensation, I simply flip the lengthened lever to its down position, which holds the flash comp button down for as long as the lever remains in that down position. And the flash comp setting (between +1 and -3) appears in the D700's viewfinder. Then, when I turn the aperture knob with my right middle or ring finger, I see the flash comp setting change in the camera's viewfinder, with the housing at my eye ready to shoot. When I see the flash comp I want, I can shoot immediately. You don't have to stop depressing the flash comp button to take a shot with Nikon cameras. If I want a second shot at a different flash comp, I simply turn the aperture knob/front input dial until I see the new flash comp I want, and then shoot again. My Ikelite 161's do a full power recycle in 2-3 seconds. TTL is often less. I often change the flash comp fast enough to be ready for the next shot by my strobes are ready. Less time, less effort and fewer shots missed.

Andrej, my email address is fbavendam@hotmail. If you will send me a short note with an email address that I can use to send pictures and explanations to you, I will do it. Not instantly, but within a week or two. And maybe one control modification at a time. I don't want spend too much time on it all at once and take too much time away from diving while I'm in Bali.

Fred



Hi Fred,

Thanks's for sharing the info. I've tried to contact You via mail, but I received a message report that it couldn't be forwarded. I'll try it again. Mine is andrej@abelic.net.

Andrej

#107 Don in Colorado

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 09:43 PM

To keep the jovial spirit in these D800 threads going (some of them are getting far too serious) - here is the D800 in action today. Rather flashily I have uploaded this using the wi-fi on out live aboard Whirlwind:

Alex


Thanks Alex. That was a fun video in the true Benny Hill style !

Edited by Don in Colorado, 19 June 2012 - 09:44 PM.


#108 Udo van Dongen

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 09:25 AM

Thanks Alex. That was a fun video in the true Benny Hill style !


true, except for one thing that's missing.... :lol: ..... Well, at least the little fish are naked... Or is it only in the Netherlands that they broadcasted the uncensored versions?...

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#109 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:56 PM

There has been some debate on the file size from the D800. Yesterday, for example, I did 4 dives, 16mm fisheye, 16-35mm, 15mm with mini dome (mistake) and macro with 105 and Subsee at night.

I am in the Red Sea and it is the hot time of year here - so I took a lot of photos - there is amazing subject matter everywhere.

As the files are so big I immediately edited out the obvious rejects. My folder for yesterday now has 500 images for the day (I am sure I'll edit it down further when I have time). It is just under 23GB!

The largest file is 48.7MB. Most of the wide angles are 44MB - as I am shooting schools of fish with sunbursts etc - so lots of detail throughout the picture.
The smallest file is 39MB. Macro with black background.

However you cut it - this is a lot of data to deal with - especially if you do long trips or travel regularly.

The detail in the images is truly impressive. For fun last night I showed a 100% crop of a single yawning fish in a massive school on the projector. Everyone was amazed - when I revealed the full picture. Nobody could see the fish I had cropped out - it was so small in the original.

The camera captures sunbursts very well. Better than any camera I have tried - and without the need to underexpose excessively. But like all digitals it still needs good conditions to do this. It still produces ugly sunballs if you are deep or in rougher conditions etc.

The high ISO noise is not that impressive at a pixel level. One experience 7D shooter commented how noisy the blues were in my RAW file was at ISO 320, which burst my bubble a little! I hadn't applied any noise reduction yet.

That said the noise is never ugly and greatly reduced when viewed at 50%, rather than 100% (or 18MP approx). I have shot at ISO 800 a couple of time - and I am very content with the image quality at that ISO. Otherwise I have used ISO 400 in low light. ISO 200 when I need lots of flash power and ISO 100 when I can. I have been shooting the schools with both my strobes on full power! Recharging them after each dive (some DX users have also been recharging after each dive too).

Don't misconstrue this - the camera is very good at higher ISOs - not quite as good at a pixel level as the D3/D700, but better than both when downsized to 18MP - which is amazing IMO. That said, the impression of the 20 underwater photographers here is just one of mild disappointment compared with all the hyperbole they have read about it when it comes to ISO.

I have shot some UW HDR with it too - although will leave processing until I am back on my main computer. It is a very nice camera to shoot (apart from the long image review delay that happens from time to time).

Alex

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#110 John Bantin

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:58 AM

I haven't tried my D800 underwater yet but I have taken shots with it side-by-side with my D700 in my studio with studio electronic flash.

I have to say that I too am mildly disappointed in that at ISO200, which I try to use all the time underwater with the D700, the results looked very similar on my big HD monitor with 200 percent magnification. I will have to wait until I'm in the sea with it to really get an idea if I made the right purchasing decision. However, I've just converted some D700 pictures from underwater with CS6 RAW converter and that was certainly worth the money. It's superb! (even though the picture I've downloaded has come out strange colour on here!)

Attached Images

  • _EBC6352.jpg

Edited by John Bantin, 22 June 2012 - 01:58 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?

 

#111 Drew

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:06 AM

Alex, you have to try the HDR mode underwater, it's actually quite impressive with a 3 stop bracket. Of course it's not raw for those who want to join Wildlife Photography but it's fun to try.

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#112 Drew

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:27 AM

Alex, you have to try the HDR mode underwater, it's actually quite impressive with a 3 stop bracket. Of course it's not raw for those who want to join Wildlife Photographer but it's fun to try, especially for timelapse.

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#113 loftus

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:47 AM

I haven't tried my D800 underwater yet but I have taken shots with it side-by-side with my D700 in my studio with studio electronic flash.

I have to say that I too am mildly disappointed in that at ISO200, which I try to use all the time underwater with the D700, the results looked very similar on my big HD monitor with 200 percent magnification. I will have to wait until I'm in the sea with it to really get an idea if I made the right purchasing decision. However, I've just converted some D700 pictures from underwater with CS6 RAW converter and that was certainly worth the money. It's superb! (even though the picture I've downloaded has come out strange colour on here!)

For viewing similar frames on a computer screen a D700 will look very similar to a D800, or a 7D or a5DIII or a Hasselblad etc. From that perspective, buying a D800 makes no sense. Noise and detail will all look very similar allowing for downsampling and all the other things one looks for.
The only thing that will stand out in that circumstance is DR.
I think for someone who does not do large prints this camera is way over the top, but print these images at 24 x 36 mount them on the wall, and stand back, and the DR and detail will blow every other DSLR away. And noise will be the same to the viewers eye.
Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.

#114 John Bantin

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:50 AM

The pictures from both appear to pixelate at the same magnification.

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?

 

#115 Udo van Dongen

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:29 PM

There has been some debate on the file size from the D800. Yesterday, for example, I did 4 dives, 16mm fisheye, 16-35mm, 15mm with mini dome (mistake) and macro with 105 and Subsee at night.


Alex,
You mentioned that the 15 mm FE with a minidome was a mistake. Is it because the sunshades are in the picture?That's my guess, because i was not able to use my Nauticam minidome with Hugy adapter with the 15 mm for that reason and as far as i know, my minidome is 2 mm closer to the lens then on a Nauticam housing. I had to get the glass minidome from hugyfot and still the sunshades needed shaving... The sigma is just too flat....

Udo

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Nikon D800, D800E, Hugyfot housing, 15 mm fisheye, 16-35 mm WA, 105mm VR Macro, 60 mm Macro, Subsee +5 an +10 wet diopters, Inon Z-240 strobes (3x), Inon float arms, Nauticam armclamps, Bigblue and Inon focus lights.

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#116 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:39 PM

Alex,
You mentioned that the 15 mm FE with a minidome was a mistake. Is it because the sunshades are in the picture?That's my guess, because i was not able to use my Nauticam minidome with Hugy adapter with the 15 mm for that reason and as far as i know, my minidome is 2 mm closer to the lens then on a Nauticam housing. I had to get the glass minidome from hugyfot and still the sunshades needed shaving... The sigma is just too flat....

Udo



Adam was kind enough to lend me his shaved 15mm and mini dome. I used it on two dives this week. I was pleased how it worked with CFWA. I shot f/14-f/16.

Here is a minidome/15mm shot (f/16) of a spawning coral:
RS12_am_10053.jpg

With the schooling fish I needed to open up the aperture to get the strobes to illuminate the very big scene. So shot at f/8 and f/9. Which I thought I'd get away with because the subjects were quite far away (in UW photo terms). But the corners are mushy.

Pctures at f/8 with the fisheye were fine with the big dome with distant subjects.

I am still on the live aboard, but when I get on land I will share some images.

Alex

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#117 adamhanlon

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 06:02 AM

Hi all,

The next installment of the Wetpixel D800 review is now online:

http://wetpixel.com/...mera-review/P4/

We have/will be using the camera for some blue water shooting and plan to post some thoughts from that next. I think all that will remain thereafter will be a conclusion.

Does anyone have any specific enquiries that they would like us to look at? If it is possible, we will:)

All the best

Adam

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#118 sharky1961

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:49 AM

Hi Adam,

I am interested in the possibility of super macro shots and the DOF with that kond of shots. Also would it better to use the DX-mode for supermacro for better DOF?
Wich lens for super macro the Nikon 105mm or the Sigma 150mm?? Close up lens or teleconverter??

Rob

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#119 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:48 PM

Here is a crop from the wide angle above - showing the coral releasing gamete cloud:

RS12_am_10053.jpg

Sorry for the copyright in the middle - bug in Photoshop.

Alex

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#120 tdpriest

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:45 PM

Does anyone have any specific enquiries that they would like us to look at? If it is possible, we will:)

Adam


Having read up on CFWA and FX systems, are there any ways of using a smaller dome successfully? I'd hoped that the fisheye/teleconverter might have offered a way (dome + extension), but the latest instalment of the review seems to have put paid to that idea.

Dropping back to a DX format with a Tokina 10-17mm or a Nikon 10.5mm is obviously an option, but feels like a last resort, a bit of a waste of the D800's potential.

Tim

;)