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Wetpixel D800 review


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#1 adamhanlon

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 12:41 PM

Wetpixel will start its official review of the Nikon D800 tomorrow.

I will add updates and images about the review as II go along here.

All the pieces are in place with the arrival of the housing today:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

I can't wait!

Adam

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#2 Baumann

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 02:45 PM

Another beautiful looking Nauticam housing... I'm so looking forward to reading this one!

#3 Don in Colorado

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 02:47 PM

I always enjoy your reviews.

It will be interesting if the D800 can shoot in natural light wide angle situations (no strobe) and return 36 megapixels of absolute resolution, or if the needed shutter speed for such shots will make natural light wide angle pictures limited to really bright scenes.

Edited by Don in Colorado, 11 May 2012 - 06:22 AM.


#4 divegypsy

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 12:36 AM

A review of the Nikon D800, if it is done ONLY in a Nauticam housing, is NOT a review of the D800. It is a review of the Nauticam housing for the D800, which includes all the limitations the housing controls (or lack of controls) imposes on the camera. Each housing, as delivered by the manufacturer, reflects that manufacturer's decisions about what is important enough to include a control for. And how well he does that. MY Seacam housings for the Nikon D700 have NO CONTROL for the ambient light metering pattern, which means you cannot switch between matrix, center-weighter, and spot metering underwater during a dive. This is just one case of where a housing limits the camera. As far as I know, there is no housing made that gives you access to the two programmable "preview" and "function" buttons on many Nikon cameras. Again, a very significant omission in my opinion. When I read Alex Mustard's review of the D4, in a Nauticam housing, there was no mention of these buttons and whether there was a control for them. To really review a camera and its use under-water, multiple housings should be in the review WITH A CLEAR STATING OF WHICH CAMERA CONTROLS ARE THERE AND WHICH AREN'T. And how easy are those controls are to use. Can you easily use them with the housing in shooting position at your eye, or do you have to take the camera down from your eye and go through two-handed gymnastics.

Other SIGNIFICANT advantages or disadvantages of a particular housing - such as what you have to do to change the camera battery - should also be covered. And whether the housing supports optical sync cables slaving off of a built-in pop-up flash. There are many such important details that seem to be omitted from most WetPixel product reviews.

The Nikon D800 is shaping up as a particularly significant step in DSLR evolution and it would be nice to have good information available about the various housings for it.

Fred

Edited by divegypsy, 11 May 2012 - 12:37 AM.


#5 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 02:08 AM

As far as I know, there is no housing made that gives you access to the two programmable "preview" and "function" buttons on many Nikon cameras. Again, a very significant omission in my opinion.


From the mock up drawings of the Subal D4 there is a control to access these buttons - but I think that it might be an either or control.

As of yet, no other housings exist in the flesh for the D4 and D800 (I think the Ike D800 is out soon) - so the reviews are naturally based on using the camera in those housings.
I think it is more useful for Wetpixel to review the cameras as early as possible - to hopefully provide some useful information to perspective buyers before they buy. If we wait for the last manufacturer to have their housing ready - a large number of D800 users will already have their cameras and housings and the review would be less helpful.

-----TEXT DELETED-----

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#6 adamhanlon

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 02:14 AM

Hi Fred,

I disagree!. The purpose of this review is not to review housings, it is to review the camera's performance underwater, as was Alex's excellent D4 review. Ergonomics, or which controls a manufacturer includes or does not include, are a matter for a housing review. We may carry out a housing review at a future date. This will concentrate on the controls that are available on different housings.

In this instance, Nauticam were the first to provide a housing. This gives us the earliest possible opportunity to test the camera underwater.

I agree that a housing review should state which controls are available-a camera review should not! I don't think the omission of an individual's preferred controls should be raised in a camera review. How you shoot will be different from others-the lack of a control will influence how you shoot. I do not use "function" or "preview" buttons for this reason!

Lastly, the use of caps in a post equates to shouting-this is rude, hectoring and belligerent. Please don't do so if you wish to engender debate.

All the best

Adam

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#7 pmooney

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 04:31 AM

Lastly, the use of caps in a post equates to shouting-this is rude, hectoring and belligerent. Please don't do so if you wish to engender debate.



Fantastic use of language - bring on the discussions :P

#8 Drew

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:15 PM

Alex, I had a look at the Subal mockup and it didn't look like there is Fn or Pv access. The good news is that with the joystick control, every setting will be available via the menus. Can't have everything and the functions are available, but via the menus. Personally I don't see how one can actuate controls that are on the front right side of the housing and still trigger the shutter? It'd have to be dependent on the ring or pinky fingers for actuation.

Fred, while the ideas suggested by you are good in theory, the realities of such reviews is much more difficult. As Alex has mentioned, we are reliant upon the goodwill of manufacturers/dealers (and even friends!) to get housings for reviews. Some manufacturers make it even more difficult by having stipulations regarding reviews including restrictions on comparisons with other brands etc. A good example is Adam's D7000 review, which was delayed by housing availability and manufacturer reluctance. There is also a cost element for manufacturers/dealers who have to send their housings to reviewers, and their marketing department may feel it unnecessary to market a popular product but wish us to review something that needs more promoting.
With a camera like the D800, where I am guessing at least 8 manufacturers will be making a housing for it. I feel a review of a housing should be at least 20 dives to get a good feel of it, which is about a week's diving. That's 8 weeks of diving, plus another few weeks to write it all up. Remember except for Eric and Adam, every other reviewer is a volunteer. Even Eric and Adam have a day job (or is it a night job? :D).
Furthermore, a word on netiquette, caps can be used to emphasize a word or a short phrase but a sentence in caps is as Adam says, considered "shouting". I'm sure you didn't mean to "shout" but just letting you know how people may perceive it. You can use boldface and/or italics for emphasis.

I am still waiting on my D800E! :(

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#9 adamhanlon

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:16 PM

Hi all,

As promised, here is a couple of images from today:

Posted Image
1/80 at f10, ISO 100

Posted Image
1/320 at f9, ISO 100

Shot with a Zen 230mm dome and a Sigma 15mm lens.

These are from RAW files, passed straight through Lightroom 4 with no processing beyond standard RAW conversion.

Very happy with the cameras dynamic range.

Posted Image
1/25 at f13, ISO 100

Initial thoughts are that the files are huge! Two dives yielded nearly 20Gb of images!

More soon!

Adam

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#10 cor

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:32 PM

Thats some good looking sunballs.
Cor Bosman - Nikon D2X Subal ND2 - Nikon D7000 Subal ND7000
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#11 TomR1

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 03:27 PM

For my part i would like to see some of the cropped macro shots to increase magnification that Alex talked about. I'm thinking that 36mb cropped to 12mb is a big magnification. I'd also like to see a subsee +5 and +10 on an AF-105-VR cropped from 36mp to 12mp.

Regards,

#12 Don in Colorado

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:21 PM

The sunballs look very good. I am surprised to see them at such a low shutter speed. The dynamic range of the D800 is very impressive.

I have a D800, and those huge files are a big challenge ( slow to load ) on my laptop. I may need to go to a desktop computer to deal with these images in Lightroom 4.0 ( Windows 64 bit ). Looking forward to your input on that issue.

Edited by Don in Colorado, 11 May 2012 - 05:29 PM.


#13 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 09:45 PM

That dynamic range looks super impressive. Especially because this is dark UK conditions, not bright tropics.

Really excited to see this review. Definitely the most important of the 3 new SLRs.

Alex

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#14 loftus

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 04:52 AM

It will be great if there is a way to download large files to look at. The fact that these are untouched RAW files is pretty impressive, when one considers what just some basic tweaks can add.
Just like adding high ISO ability a few years ago changed underwater photography, I think expanding DR can do the same. Being able to go into those shadows and really explore and/or bring out different levels of detail really changes what you can do with an image, effectively making HDR much more of a viable concept underwater.

Speaking of large files, I think it's time to spring for that 128GB card. :D

Edited by loftus, 12 May 2012 - 04:56 AM.

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.

#15 adamhanlon

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 05:04 AM

Hey Jeff,

I will add some downloadable files in the review-this is just to get your tastebuds going.

I bought 64gb SD and 32gb CF cards. I realised pretty quickly that my older cards weren't up to it.

I've just been diving it again and will add some more images soon.

Adam

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#16 adamhanlon

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 09:04 AM

Some images from today's testing:

Conditions were nota s good as yesterday, visibility more limited, and less sunshine.

Posted Image

Posted Image
Both the above straight out of the camera.

A quick experiment with a few quick tweaks (black clipping, exposure and clarity) in LR4.

Before:

Posted Image

After:

Posted Image

The tonal information, especially in the shadows, is still very much there!

I will be pool testing with a macro lens tomorrow, so don't expect to post any more images for a few days. The review is carrying on though.

Adam

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#17 buressy

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 12:04 PM

Hello,

I am interested in underwater video. I have a D800 and I am still undecided weather to buy a UW housing to use it as my video camera. Will you include UW video aspects in your D800 review? In particular:

- What do you think on AF-C in video? My experience so far is that it is not usable (The camera is searching).
- Which housing: external monitor/lights will you be using and will you look at video functions on the housing?
- Duration of the battery (I found +/-30 minutes with LV on) which is not quite sufficient for UW video

Looking forward to read this post

#18 diverdave1

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 12:11 AM

Hi Fred,

I disagree!. The purpose of this review is not to review housings, it is to review the camera's performance underwater, as was Alex's excellent D4 review. Ergonomics, or which controls a manufacturer includes or does not include, are a matter for a housing review. We may carry out a housing review at a future date. This will concentrate on the controls that are available on different housings.

In this instance, Nauticam were the first to provide a housing. This gives us the earliest possible opportunity to test the camera underwater.

I agree that a housing review should state which controls are available-a camera review should not! I don't think the omission of an individual's preferred controls should be raised in a camera review. How you shoot will be different from others-the lack of a control will influence how you shoot. I do not use "function" or "preview" buttons for this reason!

Lastly, the use of caps in a post equates to shouting-this is rude, hectoring and belligerent. Please don't do so if you wish to engender debate.

All the best

Adam

With all due respect, exclamation points can be perceived the same way. If Fred had posted the entire message in allcaps I can see how that would come across as offending, but it appeared he only tried to emphasize certain parts of the post, as you did with the !!

#19 Andrej Belic

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 01:03 AM

A review of the Nikon D800, if it is done ONLY in a Nauticam housing, is NOT a review of the D800. It is a review of the Nauticam housing for the D800, which includes all the limitations the housing controls (or lack of controls) imposes on the camera. Each housing, as delivered by the manufacturer, reflects that manufacturer's decisions about what is important enough to include a control for. And how well he does that. MY Seacam housings for the Nikon D700 have NO CONTROL for the ambient light metering pattern, which means you cannot switch between matrix, center-weighter, and spot metering underwater during a dive. This is just one case of where a housing limits the camera. As far as I know, there is no housing made that gives you access to the two programmable "preview" and "function" buttons on many Nikon cameras. Again, a very significant omission in my opinion. When I read Alex Mustard's review of the D4, in a Nauticam housing, there was no mention of these buttons and whether there was a control for them. To really review a camera and its use under-water, multiple housings should be in the review WITH A CLEAR STATING OF WHICH CAMERA CONTROLS ARE THERE AND WHICH AREN'T. And how easy are those controls are to use. Can you easily use them with the housing in shooting position at your eye, or do you have to take the camera down from your eye and go through two-handed gymnastics.

Other SIGNIFICANT advantages or disadvantages of a particular housing - such as what you have to do to change the camera battery - should also be covered. And whether the housing supports optical sync cables slaving off of a built-in pop-up flash. There are many such important details that seem to be omitted from most WetPixel product reviews.

The Nikon D800 is shaping up as a particularly significant step in DSLR evolution and it would be nice to have good information available about the various housings for it.

Fred



Subal is offering a function lever on D4 and D800

#20 Udo van Dongen

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:55 AM

For my part i would like to see some of the cropped macro shots to increase magnification that Alex talked about. I'm thinking that 36mb cropped to 12mb is a big magnification. I'd also like to see a subsee +5 and +10 on an AF-105-VR cropped from 36mp to 12mp.

Regards,


The sunballs indeed are very impressive! can't wait to take my D800 under water. In case people want to see what is possible with the D800's dynamic range, here's a photo i took earlier this week straight against the sun with the 15 mm sigma Fisheye lens (ISO 100, f/8.0 and 1/1000 sec)

as imported in Lightroom 4:
zoals_in_lightroom_geimporteerd_2.jpg

and after some postprocessing in LR4:
bewerkt_2.jpg

100% crop of the unprocessed image left lower corner:
unprocessed_100_.jpg

100% crop of the processed image (a little more downsized en more compressed than the unprocessed left lower corner, due to size allowance):
bewerkt_100_.jpg

As you can see: with a D800 you don't need HDR techniques anymore...

cheers, Udo

Edited by Udo van Dongen, 13 May 2012 - 03:01 AM.

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