I’m in Ireland right now, I have been teaching a workshop for Strabo Tours. We have toured the green Irish countryside, sampled pub life, and even had a day of horse racing. I decided to make the D800 my primary travel camera and put it through the paces..slow hand held shooting, high ISO indoor shooting, and maybe even some sports shooting. D800 and sports shooting? Read on!
One concern I had was hearing you needed to use a tripod all the time with this camera due to the high resolution which amplified shaky hand held shooting. All the images shown here were hand held, no tripods used. In fact I rarely used a tripod and never had an issue with blurry photos other than when I was wobbling in the wind (wouldn’t have mattered what camera I was using). It felt like I was using a D700, except the files were 36MP. The sheep/fence shot was taken at 1/160, F5.6 at ISO250.
We had some overcast days which had me shooting under 1/125 and hand holding my shots…I could have used a tripod, but wanted to be more mobile in my shooting and work the whole beach. This beach rock was shot at 1/60, F8 at ISO200.
Another big question is how good can the ISO performance be with all those pixels packed into that sensor. The image of the musician was shot at ISO3200, 1/160 at F1.4. The D800 does very well with noise at ISO 1600 and 3200, similar to the D7000. Sure, this camera is not the D4 or D3 at high ISOs like 6400, but what I learned very quickly is I can shoot at ISO3200 and get nice, publishable images. I reduced noise just slightly in this image via Photoshop.
The D800 as a sports camera? Well, you’re right, the 4FPS frame rate is not going to compete with a D3 or D4. But the large files and nice ISO performance allowed me to capture these racing horses with a 24-120mm lens and crop down to a tighter shot, and still have a large file to use. 1/1250, F5.6 at ISO 1000. And remember you can shoot in DX crop mode at a faster frame rate and still have large files to use.
I roamed around the track and shot detail images of the horses and riders between races. 1/320, F5 at ISO 640.
Overall I have come to find that the D800 does a lot of things better than any other camera I’ve owned before. Large file size, very good ISO performance, low light focusing ability (imagine those dark interiors on your travels), in camera quick time movie production..this camera is really a huge step up. And of course the D800 has amazing video performance which will be the subject of another post. For shooting fast action sports, I’ll grab a D4. But for many of my shoots, the D800 will be in my hand.