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Monday, 19 November 2012

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Getting a decent handful of those lenses even in the more moderate focal lengths (no Super-teles!) will probably set you back 10K+.

Photoshop, ACR, Lightzone (remember that? I bought and used it a lot), Lightroom, Aperture (currently using that), Elements, who knows what else, etc., now Photo Ninja too. Man, will this ever end. I don't have the time or patience to try all these out.

Speaking of focus settings on Nikons, I really like the ability to decouple autofocus from the shutter button.

Using the AF-ON button to activate focus and leaving the camera on AF-C (I almost never change it) you get best-of-three worlds focus: You can hold down the AF-ON button for continuous tracking focus when needed, you can focus and recompose to your heart's content and you can manually focus (af-s lenses at least) whenever you'd like.

For a guy who's on the record as thinking that sharpness maybe isn't the be all and end all, you sure do seem to be enjoying it ;)

And that's ok! Enjoyable is not the same as Vitally Important!

Hi Mike. Great overview, I have secured some real keepers, extracted from a section of an image, the D800 really delivers vast amounts of detail. Although some of my lenses are not on the approved list I have had great results with the 24mm tilt,shift and the very slow 80-400mm (focused manually )
Warren Hinder
Katoomba Australia

Andrew,
The DR is what grabs me, not the resolution. (Plus the camera's overall competence.)

Mike

I agree with Robert above, will this ever end? Of course the answer is no, it can't end because then we might actually have time to think and take photographs instead of wondering what gizmo-gadget will make our lives and photographs more wonderful (for x amount of dollars). I love this blog, and more power to Mike for finding a camera he likes. But seriously, it's the discourse around this stuff that's so bothering...and so, well, against a philosophy of photography that focuses on the experience (I'm willing to accept there are many philosophies).

Yes, gear and processes are important - I can imagine Elliot Porter fussing over his dye transfer process, but what I'm pointing to is the explosion of talk around photo gear...talk that should make photography more accessible, results better, but does it? It's a discourse on photography that's so wrapped up results, reviews, and with consumerism, and the dissatisfaction with what we have that seems to drive our need for material things. I love cameras for their materiality as much as the next person so I'm sort of confessing to an obsession I'm trying to manage as well. I can't remember a specific camera I've owned that created photographs that I was more happy with compared to another. Heck, I don't even remember the camera I used for my favorite photos or the ones that people seem to like.
The Canon 5D was the first and last digital SLR I'll ever own. Does it do black and white like Tri-X...uh no, but why would I want it to or need it to do that?

"The Canon 5D was the first and last digital SLR I'll ever own. Does it do black and white like Tri-X...uh no, but why would I want it to or need it to do that?"

Well, maybe if something crazy happened like Kodak going bankrupt and threatening to sell off or close down film production. Then you might.

Oh, wait....

Mike

Got a D600 and fly to Japan. Standing in front of Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and want to change a bit the AF and do a bit bracketing. Coming from D70-D200-D300 since 2004, I think I know but cannot find both in the menu. I have to start my iphone, get the manual and search. Both is in the manual but I cannot understand what it say.

I just stop, look at manual on iphone, stop, look, walk, (repeat for 1/2 hour and nearly at the end of the trail before it occurs to me that the AF button can be pushed and the bracket is actually a separate button.

Anyway, as D600 is not out, I just got Thom's D800 manual to go through it before my next trip to Israel. Just finish understand the different sensor and how to programme the tif ... I know I can jump through sections but Thom is writing so well and I do not want again missing the bits (like AF and bracket), I just want to go through the whole thing (even it is for a different camera!)

Not easy this hobby!


So wait... Nikon doesn't manufacture a 50mm lens that they feel they could recommend putting on the front of a D800/E? The focal length where most reviewers agree that even the weakest variants in a company's stable (like Canon and Nikon's f/1.8 versions) are pretty damned good? Really?

It begs the question as to whether that list was generated largely on price alone.

And I'd have to run the test, but I have a very hard time believing that the 24-120mm "kit" lens that made the list performs better at 50mm than all 4 currently-available 50mm lenses.

"the D800 is a 4x5 in an F100 body" -

colour me sad every time I hear this, 35mm will always be the starter format to me. Bad shape, thin rendering of space. Only shoot horizontals.

The enthusiasm for analogue photography is in large measure (pun) due to the cameras themselves- different aspect ratios, big bright viewfinders, and a different way of drawing and depicting the world.

Cropping used to be the cardinal sin- now it is S.O.P if you want 4x5, 6x7, 6x6 shapes.

bad bad bad.

Instagram proves that there is so much love for square that I am sure a camera manufacturer could move enough product if they offered a square sensor. Irony that the only company who might have the foresight would be Fuji or maybe Ricoh to do this. Hasselblad never really followed through, their stunted 4x4 chip was thin gravy.

And 6x7, 4x5? roughly equivalent shapes but I would never argue that you can't chose between them, unfortunately I doubt any camera company will ever offer them again.

Robert,
It's not so bad as all that. Many digital cameras have selectable aspect ratios. I shoot my GF1 in 4:3, for instance. And several digital cameras can shoot square.

Mike

Aaron -- I was converted to "AF-ON" by swapping cameras for a week with a friend with a Canon 5D. Rather than try to find it in the menus, I kept that part of his setup, which sounded good. It was good for me, so I set my Nikon, and my next Nikon, that way, and haven't switched back.

Which means that I've discovered over and over again that both flash and camera AF assist illumination is disabled in continuous auto-focus mode. Always when shooting outdoors by bonfire light with a flash, or something extreme like that, where the AF assist is actually useful (not absolutely necessary; what the D700 will do in the dark is amazing). I mention this to help minimize the number of people who only figure this out hours or days later :-).

Robert, I've met the extreme anti-cropping school -- but they were always a small minority, NOT the mainstream. Witness the standard darkroom paper sizes compared to film aspect ratios! Or compare to commercial publication sizes like single and double-page magazine spreads. In both cases, you will be cropping from most commonly-used formats, and particularly from 35mm.

Mike -- switchable aspect ratios are just in-camera automatic cropping, though, in the digital era. It's somewhat useful to limit the view to the shape you intend, if you have a clear intention, though, so I won't complain. I use the three rectangular ratios in my EPL-2, but not the square, I crop for that because it's always an afterthought.

Mike -- I handled a D800 for the first time Saturday (a local friend has one now), and went through exactly the same thing you did with the AF controls. My D700 has a three-position AF control on the front plus another three-position AF control on the back, plus several menu entries; the D800 does this IMHO better, by having a control only for AF vs. MF, plus a button that enable the wheels to quickly cycle through the AF choices. Not what I'm used to, but better. But my friend had to point out the center button in the AF control to me.

(The position of the other AF control that used to be on the back is taken over by the still/video selector, which strikes me as a waste of physical control. But I keep hearing about people trying to cover both at one event, so I suppose they must switch between them frequently and on short notice. I believe the D800 will shoot full resolution stills in the middle of a video take, too, which could be useful for people trying to cover both (except that the aspect ratios are different, so I wouldn't expect the framing to be right for both; oh, maybe it shoots the stills in 16:9 also, it does have multiple aspect ratios, so that would make sense).

Will, that's a great point about the lack of a 50mm. I'd like to hear Nikon explain that.

The 24-120mm F4 isn't the kit lens, though. It's a $1,400 gold ring Nikon with Nanocoat. You're probably thinking of the variable aperture version that's half the price. Confusing branding on Nikon's part.

Odd that Nikon's "official" list of D800/D800E-approved lenses doesn't include their AF-S Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.4G!

"Well, maybe if something crazy happened like Kodak going bankrupt and threatening to sell off or close down film production. Then you might.

Oh, wait...."

like we can do anything about film dying (structural issues)....but I just have to go and buy a the latest DSLR because it does this and that, come on. This remark steps aside a real comment on camera consumerism and how it's shifting our concepts on photography, not framed as good and bad, but as different, with some amazing potential and some things to be concerned about.

[That point isn't a bad one, mastaliu, but it's not on topic for this post. —MJ


Mike,

Congratulations on the Nikon d800 purchase. I feel like a distant relation as I just purchased a Pentax k5II-- also not the version without the AA-filter.

I'm writing now because you also purchased Photo Ninja. This may be a future question for ctein... I own and am happy with Lightroom. But I also have an old copy of Noise Ninja that I could upgrade (this year only) to Photo Ninja and I would love to know if it is worth it. In particular for us is this Photo Ninja promise:

"For most photographers, we recommend using cameras with antialiasing filters. Antialiasing substantially reduces the risk and severity of demosaicing artefacts and moire. Apparent softness can be effectively overcome with Photo Ninja's excellent sharpening filter, which uses deblurring technology that can effectively compensate for antialiasing blur."

Is there really anything to this special Photo Ninja deblurring technology that isn't in Lightroom?

thats kool aid we all have sampled- but it is not the same as a whole camera dedicated to a specific aspect. why kid ourselves? the pure viewfinder experience of looking, so very important to seeing the subject is being diluted.

You can superimpose crop lines inside some cameras but they don't mask out the frame entirely, and then you are left with an even more cramped view of the subject. Not the same. Or you can stare at arms length at the back of an lcd but that is never going to win me. For some things yes, static subjects.

I think it is a much bigger loss than many people allow for. As if from now on, the toyota camry is the good enough car for everyone. You can just put on leather driving gloves if you want a sporty experience:)....

> for you current or former Dektol-breathers: the D800 is a 4x5 in an F100 body. I might be honeymooning a little.

Honeymoon or no, I eagerly await your gallery show backing this up! I've got my Visa and Mileage Plus cards right here...

To Robert's point, I've always appreciated the fact that the specifications for the Micro4/3 format merely specify the diagonal of the sensor, not the aspect ratio. While most cameras have stuck with the 4:3 aspect ratio (including, sadly to me, the new Panasonic GH3), two cameras, the GH1 and GH2 from Panasonic, actually had larger sensors that fully covered the diagonal for 16:9, 3:2, and 4:3 formats. Panasonic's LX3, LX5, and LX7 had similar oversized sensors.

The upshot of this being that any of those three aspect ratios are obtained without cropping. Sure, as Mike pointed out in his own response to Robert, many cameras let you select a number of aspect ratios, but this is really just a form of pre-cropping. The GH1 and GH2, though, allowed a photographer to select an aspect ratio and fill the lens' image circle to that ratio. I hope to see more of that, but more to the point, I hope some camera manufacturer decides to offer a Micro4/3 camera with a native aspect ratio other than 4:3. Olympus, to my mind, seems most likely to jump in an offer a 1:1 sensored camera.

In any event, lenses have to be made to cover a certain circle, and a sensor really can be made to fill that circle in any aspect ratio. While the standard for Micro4/3 seems to invite this, Nikon could, for example, offer a camera with a square sensor that covers a 43.27mm diagonal (roughly 30.6x30.6, I think), and all of their FX lenses could cover that sensor. Paired with a viewfinding system designed for the sensor, there would be no problem. Optical could certainly work, though I imagine that when we see such a camera, it will have an EVF. I, personally, would love to see an Olympus camera shaped like a 500-series Hasselblad, with a hooded LCD perched atop the camera like a waistlevel finder. You could even include an option to optically reverse the horizontal, for those set in their ways that are gluttons for punishment.

Like the once-mythic monochrome camera, I see this as a question of "when and from whom," rather than "if."

Mike

Possibly too late now, but a cost effective way to get ACR 7 is to buy Lightroom 4, at around a third of the price of CS6. The Raw conversions will be identical, but Lightroom has the edge with features such as a history function and an easy method to toggle before and after views. Lightroom also has extensive library management and printing options, the latter offering more than CS6.

Most images can be processed to completion in Lightroom, but if any further work is required, Photoshop Elements 11 can do most, if not all, of what is likely to be necessary. You do not need to take my word for it, as this is the combination which Martin Evening recommends in his excellent Lightroom book.

I am still baffled by the advantage of shooting B&W with D800/E. Is it the higher resolution? Is it the better dynamic range? Is it the lower noise at high ISO? Is it the flexibility of the controls? The Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the upcoming 17mm f/1.8 lens seemed to satisfy a lot of these critieria in a smaller package too. I wonder if the D800/E will become the Pentax K-5 or whether it will become your next Minolta replacement...

About your reluctance to spend 1600 bucks for a lens: If you like to try a really good but affortable 35mm and don't mind manual focus have a look at the Nikkor 35mm/2 AiS. I knew it was good but got pleasently surprised when I compared it to my 35/1.4G (on my D700). The AF 35/2D is ok in the center stopped down but never gets really good at the sides or corners.

btw, the OTHER independent Nikon specialist (more lens specialist) is Bjørn Rørslett. You can find him at http://www.nikongear.com these days. Great site to get infos about current and discontinued Nikkors! Nice folk there in general.

Marc

Mike, I know you're probably not going to want to hear this, but I'm finding Capture One Pro 7 produces a vastly superior file, especially with black and white, versus Lightroom 4. This is with my D800E.
Here's an example:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/semillerimages/8146254194/

Cheers!
*steve

I went and looked at the list of recommended lenses for the D800, as given in Nikon's Technical Guide for the D800 (available on-line). It actually says "Some lenses that offer excellent resolution are listed below:". That "Some" leaves plenty of wiggle room. I, too, noticed the glaring omission of the 50mm f/1.4G. Also, as someone else pointed out, what about the PC lenses? And I might add, what about the 105 and 135 f/2 DC lenses? Not to mention the 50 and 85mm f/1.8G lenses. I'll take Nikon's list with a huge grain of salt.

@Will: +1. Most any Nikkor 50mm lens going back through the years has superb resolution and is capable of making terrific pictures. I recall that DXO tested Nikkor (and Canon) 50mm primes in the recent past and found them to be measurably excellent.

Sharp lenses and tripods....

Well, of course the other way is just to recalibrate what you consider as the minimum shutter speed for a given focal length.

For 35mm film, the ROT was 1/FL. That was good for 6MP cameras, but as resolution increases, one should really increase it by the same (linear) proportion.

24MP D600 has exactly twice the horizontal resolution of a 6MP camera, hence my new ROT is 1/2FL, and generally this works.

Still nice to use a good lens on a camera like this though, however this only really seems to be an issue for landscapes when edges have to be sharp - most lenses are pretty much OK in the centre.

"Paired with a viewfinding system designed for the sensor, there would be no problem."

Will,
Except, that's a problem. Think about it--the mirror would have to be deeper than the current standard. Yet it would still have to clear the existing flange distance. That would require a complete redesign of the mirrorbox, which would require a complete redesign of the rest of the camera. Not un-do-able, but not trivial by any means.

Mike

So Nikon doesn't approve of any of their manual focus lenses on the D800? The truth is, any Nikkor (or other brand) lens you can attach to an 800 is capable of taking compelling photos. No one obsesses over edge sharpness, bokeh, IQ or any other nonsense when viewing the flag raising on Iwo Jima, sailor kissing nurse in Times Square, Ruby shooting Oswald or other well-known photos. Actually, I take that back; today's forum foamers would eviscerate those photos for their lack of technical perfection.

Mike,

You're right... I guess there is a deeper distance for the mirror to clear... so it can be a mirrorless camera. No problems there, no matter the manufacturer.

Will

Mike I am so happy you bought the D800, as you are the perfect study partner.

Mike I read your blog everyday and always enjoy the articles and comments. I do have to comment on luminance and color noise; ACR does a good job on both (2012 process). I use Topaz Denoise 5 and find it to be outstanding software with a good price. I should add that Nik ain't slouch either. Go enjoy that D800, I'll look at it in about 3 years.

An astute observation the conceptual split between users; I'm clearly in the "must be more careful to get the best out of it" camp, although I have no problem understanding the other camp. Sharpness really isn't the key criteria to make a good image, but when it comes to my images I want them exactly as I plan, be it a controlled blur or sharpness to the last detail (same goes for other properties too, sharpness is just an example here). Unfortunately, this can sometimes be detrimental to just getting into the flow and getting the shots, but we all try to learn.

The Nikon lens list is ridiculous. For example, the 24-120/4 is a fairly pedestrian lens, while the 1.8's, 28/1.8G, 50/1.8G, 85/1.8G, are all very solidly performing lenses. The list is also missing the PC Nikkor lenses, although they are modern and expensive, which seems to be the prime criteria for the list.

But it should also be noted that there are many interesting and highly desirable 3rd party lenses available for the Nikon system. Nikon obviously does not advertise those.

Mike Johnston a Canikon stooge? I wonder if he even noticed the pod...

Maybe the 50mm lenses are not included because they don't cost enough wink wink.

The list of approved lenses seems to vary from one place to another...I've seen what appears to be an official extended list which includes the PC lenses (all three of them) and a few more. Also, I'm not sure the list is updated -- the new, cheaper 85mm f1.8G (at around $500) has been getting reviews which seem to be better than the much more expensive ($1600) f1.4D, with reviews shot on the D800...but I expect Nikon would prefer that you buy the latter.

Mike, have you found the menu item that allows you to turn off the AF focus assist light? There is one...

Your post got me to run over to the PN Web site and then to request a trial of Photo Ninja. I was pleased with PictureCode's Noise Ninja way back when I used to apply noise reduction to many images (something I haven't done since the D700), but I wasn't aware of their Photo Ninja.

Now that I look at PN's feature set on their Web site, I see that it seems to be a direct competitor to DxO Optics Pro, a product I've used for years. It'll be interesting to compare -- I'll do some direct comparisons once I've got the PN trial.

Dear Robert,

Cropping was never the cardinal sin, except for a small minority of fanatics. Square-lovers have also always been a small minority.

Cropping a 3:2 aspect ratio down to “ideal” costs you 15% of your pixels. Your 36 megapixel camera becomes a “mere” 30 megapixel camera. Oh, the horror, the horror.

Even cropping down to square leaves you with 27 megapixels.

You think cropping is such a sin? Then why do you imagine there would be a significant market for a square format sensor camera, where the vast majority of users would have to crop? Sorry, better the minority of you than the majority of them.

Some manufacturer, someday, may offer a square format. Just to carve out a niche product for themselves. You won't like the price.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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Dear Robert Roaldi,

Easy answer: don't.

Seriously.

I don't mess with testing all this stuff. I use ACR for everything. Only reason I'm considering Photo Ninja is that Mike really likes it, and it's the successor to Noise Ninja (plus a lot more), which is a noise reduction tool I've reviewed in articles and in DIGITAL RESTORATION. But otherwise, I'd be ignoring this.

I'm kind of about RAW converters like I am about black and white developers. For most of my life, D-76 1:1 was good enough, and chasing after the miracle elixir never excited me. Ditto with ACR.

"Better" can get in the way of ever getting anything done, in my opinion.

pax / Ctein
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
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To my mind photography is a bit like audio. Once you get to a certain point you can drop huge some of money for not much benefit.

I realised a while ago that I did not have the money to spend on ever decreasing returns. When I ran my own home darkroom I rarely printed anything bigger than a 10x8 and when I worked in a pro darkroom never bigger than 16x20. With digital all I want to do is print a good quality A3+ print, my equipment doesn't need to be cutting edge to do that it just has to be good enough. This really frees me up to make photos and that for me is the fun bit.

"Note: Process Version 2012 is included in Photoshop Elements 11, but the version of ACR in Elements is severely crippled. That sentence cost me $89 to write, so I hope you appreciate it."
I, for one, would be interested in hearing more on this topic...

Dear folks,

I think people are being too hard on Nikon. I see exactly where these recommendations for equipment and practices come from. There's no doubt in my mind that they got many critical comments from photographers who bought these new cameras and then complained that their photographs weren't pixel-sharp. They weren't sharp for all the known usual reasons: they didn't know how to pick a decent lens, they didn't know how to hold the camera steady, they didn't know how to use a short enough shutter speed, it never occurred to them to use a tripod… the usual stuff. None of which is the camera's fault, it's the ignorant photographer's fault.

So, Nikon did exactly what I would've done: wrote up some webpages describing best practices and suitable hardware. It's good to educate photographers, and it preempts a zillion more damning e-mails.

But no good deed goes unpunished, so a bunch of binary thinkers decided that if this is what Nikon considered recommended practices and gear, it was the ONLY way. Which, of course, it ain't. And Nikon never suggested it was.

The reality is that even back in the film days, you could get this kind of resolution handheld if you were extremely careful in your practices and really understood what you were doing. Add in some of the tricks in digital cameras, like image stabilization, and it's demanding of a fair level of skill but it's no longer an extreme sport.

That's it, folks. That's all. Nothing to see, move along, move along [grin].

( Entirely as an aside, personally I am in Mike's rather than Thom's camp. I'm perfectly happy to extract maximum image quality of my equipment when I can, but I'm entirely happy getting “good enough” when I can't.)

(Also an aside, to Will: do not assume that a kit zoom performs worse than prime lenses. Zooms today usually [not always] cost you a couple of stops of aperture, but at equal apertures they do not necessarily perform worse than prime lenses. In some cases they perform better. Even cheap zooms. See my two columns on “zooms vs. primes.” Ya dasn't knows untils ya tests, I allus say.)


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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Phew! thanks Nikon for confirming that the $9,800, 11.2 pound 600mm f/4 is "approved" to use on the D800. And I thought that lens was a bunch of Coke bottle ends glued into a paper towel tube.

My personal approved list of Nikon lenses for the Nikon D800/900/etc. consists of the lenses that I already own. And no, the 600mm didn't make the list.

Ctein wrote: "...critical comments from photographers who bought these new cameras and then complained that their photographs weren't pixel-sharp..."

Digital photographers have gotten into the habit of inspecting images at 100% actual pixels on the screen -- no matter that they're planning to crop down to 600 pixels wide for the Web or print at 11x14". It's like getting negatives back from the developer and putting them under a microscope.

We never treated film like this, at least I never did, shooting 35mm. But when I first started shooting with a digital camera, I began to notice that some of my favorite prints by famous photographers are actually not all that sharp. Some are actually quite soft. Shots by Marc Riboud, Robert Frank...imperfect!

by the way I didn't say that cropping was a cardinal sin, I said that cropping to achieve an aspect ratio that you didn't see through the camera is not the same as seeing that ratio through the camera as part of its design.

sorry, electronic viewfinders are awful. If I want to watch video while I work...I'm not working:)

I shot the hassy for years as a square and many noted photographers did so also. Fink, ME Mark, Avedon...it was an aesthetic choice not a bolt-on.

Later 67 was the way for me and if you shoot a lot of verticals you know that 35mm is an awful vertical.

I guess everyone has forgotten the experience of actually seeing the subject through a viewfinder, which not surprising considering where cameras have gone in the last half dozen years. They have become more like video games and less like tools.

I can only wish Pentax well since they are the only company that seems to be interested in medium format for the masses. For all the resolution of the d800 it still is squeezed into a small format capture area, and it flat out is not the way many people want their images to look.

Anyway if I can't be a fanatic why be a photographer, I thought it was a prerequisite?

Ctein,

I did say that I'd have to run the test...

Nonetheless, I have spent plenty of quality time with 3 of the 4 50mm Nikkors (the two AF-Ds and the 1.8 AF-S), and they're all pretty stellar. I certainly wasn't saying that there's no way the 24-120 is that good; I was saying that there's no way all four of those 50s are that bad. I certainly think there's a case to be made for price playing a part in that list.

My most-used lens on my D800: The $110 50 f/1.8D. The focal length is very useful on full-frame (for my uses,) and in combination with that sensor just brings incredibly pleasing, detailed results. Another great choice: a $150 105mm f/2.5 AIS (MF).

But, my all-time favorite, if not quite the most used because of focal length - the 180 f/2.8 AF-N. A superb lens, a thrilling, small(ish) sharpie with exceptional utility.

Nikon's 'recommended' D800 lens list? Written with a nod to revenue, IMO. :)

I'd like to reinforce the comment by Steve Jacob about the need to increase minimum shutter speed as pixel density increases. I recently rented a D600 and also found that 1/2f worked well for non-VR lenses. Also, if you're into advanced middle-age (as I am), you're probably getting less able to hold a camera steady. So that's a second factor to consider. I seem to remember that Lloyd Chambers tested himself and found that even 1/3f gave noticeably better results than 1/2f on something like a D3x (and 1/f was unreliable).

BTW, I liked the way the D600 handled exposure in Aperture priority mode (I didn't investigate the other modes). I could set a minimum shutter speed (1/2f) and a maximum ISO. As long as there was headroom to increase the ISO (up to the specified maximum), that's what the camera did while maintaining the minimum shutter speed. When lighting got too dim and ISO reached the maximum that I had specified, only then did the camera decrease shutter speed. Some might prefer to have the maximum ISO overridden, rather than the minimum shutter speed, but don't know if there's a way to do that.

Dear Robert,

Uhhh, your own words?

"Cropping used to be the cardinal sin- now it is S.O.P if you want 4x5, 6x7, 6x6 shapes."

pax / Ctein

so I think the important question for who's going to buy the d800 /E is: are my lens good?
as a nikon user for many years I have bought and sold many lens. here the list of what is in my possession today:

afs 17-35mm f2.8
afs 20mm f2.8
afs 24mm f2.8
ais 28mm f2.8
ais 35mm f1.4
afs 35mm f2.0
afs 50mm f1.4
afs 85mm f1.8
afs 105mm f2.8 micro
ais 135 f2.8
ais 200mm f4.0

are my lens good enough for the d800 / E?
not really wanting to spend 3k us$ for the camera and the discover that I have to change all my lenses

If you are not against manual focus, there are some really great Zeiss lenses for Nikon...

Mike - if you're looking for not-too-expensive lenses which work well on the D800 I can't recommend the newish 50mm f1.8 AFS G too highly. Small, lightweight, silent and accurate focussing, a minimum of CAs and/or distortion, tack-sharp from corner to corner by f4 and absolutely as cheap as chips.

It's not often I feel so completely satisfied with a Nikon product (or indeed any tech product).

"[Thom Hogan's] 851(!)-page tome might be defeating me. It's superb, but suffers a bit from Tolstoy syndrome."

I have Hogan's books for both the D3 & D800 and know what you mean. For those who simply want to start using their D800 I suggest Ken Rockwell's "Nikon D800 and D800E User's Guide":
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d800/users-guide/index.htm

Not a single mention of CNX2? Uh? Maybe I scanned past it accidentally.

I know it's got a bad name for something or other, but... Whilst I've used ACR in the past and currently use LR4 (Adobe's only bargain) for Olympus RAWs, I've always found that CNX2 produces great results from my D700 and previously D200 RAWs.

Whilst it has a somewhat odd UI and a few annoying characteristics (like not automatically fitting the files accurately to the editing window) I've had no significant problems with it at all. I've certainly not experienced the slow operation that I've seen people whining about - but I tend to have enough RAM.

I believe there's an evaluation copy available, as with DxO. Whatever the interface design lacks - and I've got used to it - who would know better than Nikon how to munch their NEFs? Yes, I know the code doesn't originate in-house and that it's supposedly overdue for a UI redesign but, but, but. Surely you're going to check it out, Mike?

Mike, thanks for saying that you don't need to wring out every last pixel of performance from this camera. More thanks for NOT implying that you're a moron if you don't or that you have more money than sense -like some other reviewers have. One other, respected, reviewer asked D800 users to let him handle their camera and then pours scorn on them for taking a picture that a less expensive camera would've done.

Mike, love your blog and follow it every day. I am also a d800 shooter. I own or have owned most of the lenses on the recommended list, including the 85 and 35 1.4 g models. My favorite lens bar none is the 24-120 f 4 gold ring model. I sold my 24-70 f2.8 after I did some personal testing. This lens along with the 50 is my favorite travel companion, my wife excluded.

As much as you love the 35mm perspective, I highly recommend you try out a Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f2 on your D800. The clarity, depth and just overall "real-ness" of the images will blow your mind! It goes way beyond sharpness. Worth every penny (quite a few of them, actually... )

Of course, you have to focus it yourself, but hey, you're an old-school guy, right? For those of us with youth-challenged eyesight, the finder's focus confirmation indicator is actually very accurate and quite helpful.

Mike, I love your blog and comment when called for.

As to F8 versus F11, I'm sure you are familiar with Bryan Peterson, author of yada yada yada. I happen to like his books and I think he's an excellent and very inventive photographer. He's at f11 and f22 all day long and his pictures look amazing, both in detail, DOF, color, etc.

I no longer worry about that dirty word diffraction. He's shown it to be a bunch of hooey.

I am shooting the 28mm f/1.8 AF-S on my D800 regularly. It outperforms my 24-120 f/4 VR at 28mm and even when cropped to around 35mm FOV. So much for the recommended lens list.

Re the 35mm focal length, son I have one word Zeiss albeit manual focus only and maybe a coupling issue with the D800 body... ....

Resolution discussion on Full-frame cameras is pointless. They trail APS-C cameras in pixel density by at least a couple of years. Any rules that apply to D7000, K-5, and 7D also apply to D800. NEX-7 and other 24MP DSLRs raise the bar further and go way beyond pixel density of D800.

The only thing difference here is how the lenses perform in the periphery of image circle which goes unused in APS-C.

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