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Saturday, 10 November 2012


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I'm sure you'll get plenty of other comments with this information, you turn off AF Assist Illuminator as option a8 in the Autofocus submenu of the pencil menu (just checked on my D800).

I also find it interesting that you love the low light capability when after 4 months with my camera (upgraded after destroying my D700) I barely noticed it, but am blessing the heavens and Nikon engineers daily for the insane dynamic range this camera has.

[Alexandre, the DR (or ER, as Ctein prefers) is really the reason I'm interested in the camera. I only hope we get some contrasty light here before it has to go back. Today was about a four-stop day. --Mike

I had the Sigma 30/1.4 lens with an earlier camera. Great lens in many ways (and quirky in others). But the front element is just so big and imposing that it was very difficult to actually shoot strangers on the street or in the subway. People noticed me directly (which is fine) and got spooked and defensive (which is not).

It's not just the size but the overall "stalker" impression. I have no problem taking shots of strangers with my Pentax 67 and 90mm or 165mm lens, even though both lens and camera is much larger. It's simply not threatening in the same way that macho-black polycarbonate camera gear manages to be.

Mike, I hope you get a chance to shoot some ISO 100 images before the camera has to go back. The range, depth and quality of tones might give you more reason to love the sensor.
Even if your prime consideration is high ISO B&W.

PS- Good thing Robert Frank didn't have an AF assist light on his Leica when he shot this...

[Good thing, all right, John. Just imagine what might have happened to him if he'd zapped a focus assist light in that cowboy's eyes. They would have had to peel him off the floor. --MJ]

I'm really looking forward to your black-cat-in-a-coal-sack-in-a-darkened-cellar shot.

[David, what, this wasn't it? These last few pics have been pretty close. --MJ]

"But for the size print I want to make, it will be plenty sharp." Exactly. Right there is the concise answer to the claim that a D800 or 800e requires special handling or a tripod.

To Andre, above, and Mike---
"... but am blessing the heavens and Nikon engineers daily for the insane dynamic range this camera has."

While you're at it, better thank the Sony engineers! Which is why some of us who are shooting Sony are slavering over what is coming down the pike for us this coming year, along with the RX1 shortly (which I have held in my paws---amazing...). Remember 2006, when Sony took over Konica/Minolta and everyone thought it was the death knell of another camera company, and that Canon and Nikon's hegemony would only increase? Huh, those days seem quaint.

Mike: As for street shooting and camera impact, how does one really explain the extremes: Cartier-Bresson/Leica vs. Weegee/Speed Graphic? There's got to be more to it than the camera. Janne above is on to something.

PS,Mike: just picked up a Pentax 645N, 2 lenses, 220 back and a Pola back for less than $500. So....where's that densitometer ;-} ?

It really is astonishing, from all reports, how Nikon has leaped ahead with resolution and DR with the D800. If I were doing critical work at the moment, I might get it. But I think I'll wait for it to filter down to smaller cameras.

I am more than well served by the Olympus OM-D and now also the new E-PL5 (Pen Lite), which now has the same sensor. (This is a similar revolution, only in a much less imposing package.)

I don't believe that the D800 was designed to be a sneak around stealthy derringer, but more like a Colt 45 service pistol carried and used openly--and laser sights are optional.

Yes, it is sharp, and he high ISO performance is, great. But reading the beginning of he post again, I wonder: "Are you really getting what you want there?"

@John Camp re: your VS advertising sign photo subject, I take it that you are a fan of line-screen printing artifacts?

@Mike re: the photo of the lit room, I think if you had caught people in it, you could pass it off as an Edward Hopper.


I can identify with "Blunderbuss."  Nearly three years ago, I managed to arrive at the camera store on the day that they received eight new 5DII's - I got #8. I was nearly as happy as the day my first child was born!
The 5DII digital files never cease to delight me.  But often the big black blunderbuss is just too conspicuous.  I don't want to be seen and heard.  I want people to think I'm just picture-snapping-fool.  I look the part with my iPhone but the pictures from it often don't make the grade, epecially in low light.
So I got a Pansonic GX-1 and for six months it has been "the camera I have with me."  It's 4/3rds sensor provides pictures far beyond my pictures from the past - Ilford XP-2 shots on a Rollei 35.  And usually the results are adequate for "the size I'm going to print the picture."  But I can't help pixel peeping and even though I don't need them, I'm not so delighted. Some days I know I really should have brought the blunderbuss!
I'm hoping your five days of posts on the D800 don't convince me I need another blunderbuss Mike!

This is kind of like watching a movie where you know how it's going to end, but it is still fun to watch the show.

I'm putting my prediction of what you will end up buying in a sealed envelope right now.

Mike, I feel your pain. I don't like carrying a full-size DSLR around, especially a Canon with a honkin' big white lens on the front. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a Saturday morning photographing the old town in Havana. There were a couple of fellow travellers engaged in the same activity. They had large DSLR's with large lenses and stood out like sore thumbs. My camera for the occasion was the Sony NEX-7 with a Sigma 30mm lens. I felt far less conspicuous and much less inhibited. With the Nex-7, the image quality didn't suffer at all. It was a lovely experience and the images were quite usable. Unless you're taking pictures in the dark (and it looks like this may be your new hobby :-)), mirrorless cameras provide the subtlety and image quality needed for street photography.

Just the other day I was thinking that while my D800 is a technically great camera, it's imposing and pointing it at someone immediately transforms the situation into some sort of production. Which is why I'm eyeing a new mirrorless, but not sure if it's purely GAS or I actually have a legitimate need.

But it's relieving that other people are running into the same issues and thoughts... there's always that slightly nagging feeling of whether one should toughen up and use the tool for everything or look for something else for select uses; buying cameras is expensive and time is limited, so trial and error is not something to prefer.

The Paradox of Camera Size: small cameras allow inconspicuous shooting but big mirror-slapping black weapons of mass imaging allow for photographers to be taken seriously when asking permission. Two different kinds of approach and therefore "results".

That said, if I was some kind of Czar of Photographic Equipment I would require DSLR makers to offer their pro bodies in taupe (or burgundy? TBD) with the option of live view through attachable, hinged EVFs. There would be a special reward for the first to make a wireless EVF with zero lag.

But, really, placing these high resolution sensors behind slappin' mirrors is only a necessary compromise for certain situations - not unlike the compromise of AA filters. If the D800E is going after top resolution by "undoing" the softening of that filter, we should also have the option to release the shutter without all that extra disturbance (and still use a viewfinder, not the rear screen).

The size and discreetness issue is one of the reasons I predicted that you would use your sales proceeds to splurge on a Monochrom (after rental of course). The low light and shadow retrieval capability is said to be phenomenal as well. Aside from the price (gulp)...not to mention the lenses as well, it seems a perfect fit for your b/w.

You just need an expanded business model for TOP. :>)

Once long ago I decided that if I were going to shoot candids of strangers, I'd have to choose between looking like an amateur/goofball/tourist or a veteran photojournalist. The latter involved much cooler gear, so that's the direction I chose.

(I really think it's less the camera in your hand than your attitude. I find a grin and a thumbs up can be awfully disarming.)

@Kwasi: Hoping the RX1 *does* come out before Sony gets downgraded to Zzz3 or something...

Cameras like the OMD take candids. Cameras like the D800 take captives.

Cameras like the d800 (or d600/700/etc) seem to be in a strange middle ground when it comes to feeling comfortable carrying them in social situations. Carry a smaller camera, no big deal - no one notices. Carry some thing larger: d4, Pentax 6x7, Mamayia 330 (I used one for a while) and people assume you're a either a pro or an artsy type who knows what you're doing and has every right to be taking photos.

I'm not sure what it is about the big - but not big enough - camera that seems to engender some distrust. I definitly feel it though. My d700 often feels inappropriate for a party, playground or other socializing. My bigger film camera, smaller m4/3, and x100 never feel intrusive.

Recently bought a used Pen Mini (E-PM1) and 14mm for family videos and snaps. Upon exchanging cash for camera, I started street shooting in Manhattan and found that nobody paid attention, noticed or bothered. It was liberating, fun, and refreshing. Now my own dragoon (a Nikon D700) sits in the gear bag and seems to get bigger by the day, while the Oly goes out to play.

I am happy with the E-PM1's performance/results and look forward to the EMP2/EPL5, which share the OMD's 16MP sensor. I have no interest in "upgrading" my D700 though--I may even sell it.

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