Gear.. Its both a wonderful and a terrible thing. There is always something new to purchase. The question to ask yourself is, do I really need it or am I wanting to purchase it because its new and shiny? The bad thing is, there will always be something newer and shiner the second we take our purchase out of the box.
Here is my dilemma, Nikon has a few new options on the horizon. A couple have already surfaced and are starting to populate the market, the D4 and D800. In the more distant future, the rumored D400/500. And I want one.. To answer my question above, do I need one? Honestly no, if I did not previously sell my backup camera, the D300s. I sold the 300s to free up some funds to purchase one of these new beauties. Reasoning behind the decision to sell and replace with a new camera is primarily video. Starting to do more video projects I felt very limited with the 300s, A) It will only shoot 720 B) It will only shoot full manual C) It limits footage to 5 min. Replacing with the D4, 800, or possibly 400/500 would solve all of these problems.
As of today I have decided to purchase the D800. Several reasons support this decision:
The high megapixel count scared me at first, personally I would much rather have the ability to shoot clean images in low light. The D4 offers the ISO I would prefer, but personally its not worth the $3000 price boost. The rumored D400/500 sounds like they will put the D4 chip in a smaller body, but this is a rumor and honestly I don’t feel like waiting to find out.. Since I’ve sold my backup body I’m screwed if I break my D3… I would much rather replace it as soon as possible. Plus you can do some nice artsy stuff with noise. All in all, not a deal breaker. I am happy with the D3’s performance in low light, and the D800 will not be worse than this, so in theory I’ll be happy with the D800’s ISO performance.
The benefits of the high megapixels will allow me to print larger images which I love! The bigger the better. I am getting into more commercial work, so the resolution will help with those projects. Weddings will be another concern though.. Shooting 16 bit raw images the D800 produces files at 200mb each! This is crazy, giving you about 5 images per gig. (Am I wrong with this data?? Someone correct me if you have heard otherwise) Not the best for a wedding. The D800 offers a beautiful solution, DX crop mode. Yea most cameras do this already, but the D800 does it at 16mp! The is the reason I purchased the D300s was because using a DX body as a backup virtually doubles my focal length options. Using my 50mm on the DX actually gives me a focal length of about 75mm. While the D800 will be my primary camera on commercial work, it will be my backup on weddings. Sticking to my D3 for full frame shots, I would slip the D800 into DX crop mode and get the extra boost in focal length when I need it.
Once you go full frame you won’t go back. Especially if you shoot wide. There is a time and place for crop sensors, but more often than not I would prefer to shoot full frame. Shooting video this will help me ten fold. One of the reasons I wasn’t a huge fan of the D300s, was it was a crop sensor.. The widest lens I own is a 24mm, on a DX body this is about 35mm, which isn’t bad, but when you want to go wide it is. I love that the D800 gives me the option to shoot high mp full frame shots, as well as higher mp DX crop images than I am used to.
The d800 is quite a bit smaller than the D4. Yea the vertical grip is nice and I’ll probably purchase one for the D800, but it is wonderful breaking it down to a lighter rig when weight matters. Since this will be my video camera weight does matter! It will be much harder to keep the D4 stable while hand holding a small rig. Plus there are times when I’m just lazy and would prefer to shave off as many ounces as possible. I’m thinking hiking here, don’t judge me! Plus DX crop mode at 16 mp also makes the D800 virtually 2 cameras in one! Bonus
I feel much more comfortable at this point in my career spending the money on the D800 vs the D4 at this point in time. The only benefits the D4 will give me, is the noticeable ISO boost, and faster shooting. I really don’t like shooting 11 frames a second that much though.. I prefer to shoot sports fashion vs a sporting event where the 11 fps would come in handy. I’m guessing if the D400/500 comes out with a full frame D4 sensor the price won’t be too far off the $3000 mark. Yea it might be a little cheaper, but you will loose the ability to shoot DX images at 16 mp. The D4 also uses QXD cards along side the standard CF. Just another thing to purchase.. More cards & card readers I really don’t need to spend the money on.
That about sums it up. The D800 is supposed to ship in 3 days! The pessimist inside of me says I won’t get my hands on one until May though… Lets cross our fingers and hope we get one sooner! I’m brain storming an amazing music video with a talented musician and this would be a phenomenal camera to shoot with! Maybe I can use BorrowLenses.com or LensRentals.com to play with before mine ships. The sooner we can shoot the better! More details on this later on.. ;)
Found a few links that support my decision! (especially the Fstoppers video on D4 high ISO!)
-Fstoppers.com talking about the D4 ISO performance (rather surprising!)
-Jim Brandenburg interview on shooting with the D800
-Nikon Rumors.com post on ISO performance of D800 vs D700
-Side by side video of D4 & D800 at high ISO
Whatever camera you are currently using, get out and Keep Shooting!