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Thread: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    I took delivery of my D810 yesterday, having sold my D800E a few months back in favour of the Sony A7R, with which I have been pretty well satisfied apart from the recent discovery that the camera has too much shutter slap to use the FE70-200 F4 at anything lower than 2x shutter speed, which is not useful. I also missed tracking focus. So I thought I'd try the D810 for certain uses only, intending to still use the A7R most of the time.

    I had kept hold of my Zeiss 21mm F2.8 and Samyang 14mm and I have repurchased a 70-200 F4 Nikkor. Additionally I have bought a Sigma 24-105mm F4 having previously owned Nikon 24-120 F4 and both Nikon and Tamron 24-70F 2.8 lenses. Ever hopeful of a good mid range zoom, it seemed worth an experiment...

    Initial thoughts based on not having a D800 to hand for direct comparison:

    The new camera seems a touch larger and for me, it is a shock to return to something of this size and weight though it does feel very grown up and professional. It has so much faster startup than the A7R that it feels immediately more serious and ready. I find it less comfortable to hold than the A7R and can discern no difference from my memory of the D800e.

    The files seem to me to be a small increment over the D800e. Not so much in sharpness but at ISO 64 they feel a touch smoother and it also feels like there's more DR. Colour is hard to judge because I'm a RAW shooter and I am using a Beta Adobe DNG converter and then importing into Lightroom.

    Shutter is quieter and less slappy than the D800e and is frankly in a totally different league to the A7R.

    I like being able to see through the finder when the camera is switched off.

    Controls are familiar and fall well to hand but honestly, there's not a great of difference, just for me, between the menu and button setups: the Nikon is clearly superior but I can get where I want quickly on either.

    I have taken less than 100 frames and only used the Sigma lens.

    That lens seems to me a good alternative to the Nikkor 24-70 F2.8 for my needs: it isn't great, and in fact I think it is a touch less good than the Sony 24-70 (a lens I like quite a lot) but it is very useful and seems acceptable at all focal lengths, given reasonable expectations, and has a longer range. It seems very sharp on centre. I haven't test it yet, though, so this is very preliminary.

    I'm probably not going to do a lot of side by side comparisons because I intend to use the cameras for different purposes. But so far, all seems good and my initial view is that the camera, subject to lenses used, gives better results than the A7R and has a broader range of use-cases but that neither of these advantages is big enough to use it for any of the cases where the A7R is up to the job. So, because I have lenses I like for the A7R and because it is smaller and lighter, it will be my default go-to unless the job requires some of the D810'a special abilities...

    Some not very interesting shots, from which you will not be able to tell much:







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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    D810 first thoughts and a few shots


    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post

    (...) Colour is hard to judge because I'm a RAW shooter and I am using a Beta Adobe DNG converter and then importing into Lightroom. (...)

    Congratulations, Tim.
    Color tones and graduations look very smooth.
    Hope to see some full sized samples at some point for a closer judgement

    Are you aware that version 1.0 of Nikon's new RAW converter Capture NX-D has been released ?
    You might try it out while waiting for D810 support in your favorite RAW converter (though some say NX-D is not all that stable yet) ?
    Just a suggestion.

    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/nikon/50...tml#post592498

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Thanks Steen - but you won't ever, ever get me near a piece of Nikon software again. Previous versions were terrible dogs IMHO and I have heard that this one is no better!

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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Thanks Steen - but you won't ever, ever get me near a piece of Nikon software again. Previous versions were terrible dogs IMHO and I have heard that this one is no better!

    Well, I am not trying to change your mind.
    I played with Capture NX-D a little.
    The user interface is really different from the older CNX2.
    To me it now seems in part patterned after Photoshop.
    My 2 cents.
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Thanks KH, I will try it - but my expectations are exceedingly low!

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    I gave it a try. The problem is that the sharpening is terrible and that even if I turn sharpening off totally and export a TIFF, it is still doing something like sharpening and it makes the images look crunchy. Nasty.
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Hello Tim,
    100% crops comparison between D800E & D810 were posted somewhere else. I've found the difference on pixel level quite promising. Was unhappy with the D800 files. Flat midtones, boring look compared to CCD files.

    But the pop of the D810 maybe closes the gap.

    However I think all the glory of this new #1 DXO leader would only be revealed by the top of the crop lenses, meaning Sigma Art, Zeiss Otus & 135mm, Nikon 200 F2 f.i.
    Hope you will get the chance to produce a high quality file with one of the best lenses and best practices your used too. Should be of upmost interest !
    ___________________________________
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    If the heat would just drop for half an hour I'd go and shoot my Zeiss 21 on both the D810 and the A7R.... if I could just find my second tripod plate!

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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    As a new D810 owner myself I am very interested to see and read your thoughts with the Zeiss 21mm. I am looking to add it to the kit.

    Patrick

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Patrick, I have had the lens for quite a while and have always rated it. But I'd give it an 85% rather than the 90% I expected. I suspect that in parts of the frame 36mp sensors are slightly out resolving it. It is best for near and mid range work, because for landscapes the edges don't get sharp enough until F8 by which time the peak micro contrast of F5.6 has started just slightly to fade. But it is a very useful lens.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    OK here are a couple of interesting comparisons.

    This is the Zeiss 21 F2.8 used on both the D810 and the A7R with a Novoflex adaptor. Please note: it''s not as scientific as I'd like because the light was up and down slightly while a switched rigs but it tells us some things for sure and some things for maybe...

    Shots with delay but not MUP (at these shutter speeds and focal length, not an issue for either rig) and both at F8, both manually focussed in 100% Live View on the tiny Passport Color Checker in from of the right hand urn, also used for WB. Arca Cube on Gitzo 3 series CF.

    I gave both shots the same exposure and both are at ISO 100 so what is also shown is the D810 at ISO 64 in the +5 stops pushed section, just to show that there really are cleaner shadows.

    First the normal exposures: D810 then
    A7R

    Next, pushed five stops:
    D810 at ISO 64
    D810 at ISO 100
    A7R at ISO 100


    Notes on processing: All files were shot RAW. The A7R files were imported into LR and given 60/0.7/70/20 and clarity +10, then White balanced from the Passport. The Nikon files were converted to DNG using the Adobe Beta and then imported into LR and given the exact same treatment. Clearly the colour is much more tempting in the Sony files, and the Sony files also look a little more crisp. I suspect that colour is due to the Beta nature and lack of profiling for the Nikon in the DNG converter. I suspect that the slightly crisper Sony files may be due to either the same thing or, more likely, a different in pre-cooking of the RAW.

    I also developed the D810 files in NXD and I haven't reproduced the results here because, though the colours are much closer to the Sony files, the nasty rendition of the files makes them IMHO not worth the bandwidth of uploading. Just nasty. Oh, alright then (and this is with all sharpening off - NXD seems to do some sharpening by default so it can't be fully turned off, but it is horrid.

    Note that I purposely gave the exposures less light than they needed for an ETTR because I wanted to test the shadows. Note also that in the +5 stops series, that the shadow noise in the D820 file is far less digital looking than in the Sony file, and that in the D810 at ISO 64, it is better still and notably better than the D810 at ISO 100...

    My take for now is that the D810 files are probably a touch better but that this is initially masked by the differences in pre-cooking. I also think that for now, you won't get a great file from the D810 shooting RAW because of the poor colour control of the beta Adobe DNG converter and lack of profiles and because the NXD pig dog makes good sharpening so very difficult - I would say impossible, but maybe I just don't have the knack. Lord knows I've tried...

    Thoughts?
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Actually I made a profile for Lightroom using the passport. The result of processing a D810 NEF file through Adobe Beta converter to DNG, then importing into LR and applying that profile, gives results that to me look much closer to the Sony file and much more natural than processed without a profile:

    D810>DNG>LR no profile:


    D810>DNG>LR with Passport profile:


    A7R raw>LR with Camera Standard profile:

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Passport profile looks a little desaturated and blocked up to my eyes on my monitor (calibrated Eizo) -- and then mid and shadow tones look better and more natural to me from the Camera Std profile.
    Jack
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Tim, my thoughts are that testing a camera that doesn't have a profile against a camera that does is never going to give anything meaningful, processing the 2 files the same way also doesn't really help as they are different cameras and manufacturers so what gives the most to one image may be detrimental to the other.

    My own opinion is that the A7r and D810 image quality is only ever going to be classed as great when processed to individuals requirements, the difference lie in handling, speed, noise, balance, lenses, size etc. etc. I know it takes lots of effort to test but not sure image quality is really where the big differences are, it's really unlikely that you're going to find any huge areas to differentiate one camera from the other on image quality alone.

    Maybe you can give your view on using each camera for a full day, ergonomics, lens choice, images once processed to the best you can get them and then comment on your overall feeling of each system? I would be interested in reading that sort of thing.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Passport profile looks a little desaturated and blocked up to my eyes on my monitor (calibrated Eizo) -- and then mid and shadow tones look better and more natural to me from the Camera Std profile.
    I agree Jack - passport profiles are never very good, but at least it gets rid of much of the awful washed out colour rendition that the current DNG conversion creates.
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Tim, my thoughts are that testing a camera that doesn't have a profile against a camera that does is never going to give anything meaningful, processing the 2 files the same way also doesn't really help as they are different cameras and manufacturers so what gives the most to one image may be detrimental to the other.

    My own opinion is that the A7r and D810 image quality is only ever going to be classed as great when processed to individuals requirements, the difference lie in handling, speed, noise, balance, lenses, size etc. etc. I know it takes lots of effort to test but not sure image quality is really where the big differences are, it's really unlikely that you're going to find any huge areas to differentiate one camera from the other on image quality alone.

    Maybe you can give your view on using each camera for a full day, ergonomics, lens choice, images once processed to the best you can get them and then comment on your overall feeling of each system? I would be interested in reading that sort of thing.

    Mat
    I agree, but you can tell marginally more than nothing. For example, I learned that there's no good RAW workflow for now, even with the Passport. I probably learned that the ISO 64 does give quieter shadows and I think I might have learned that the D810 files have less digital looking noise. Not that either camera has much noise but I never liked the shadow recovery of the A7R quite as much as I wanted to and I think the D810 will be an improvement here. So actually, though it is too early for any 'proof', I think there will be marginally better files coming off the D810. Not by enough to make a poor photographer a good one though ;-)

    As for usability, handling etc, I don't have a lot to add other than what I wrote at the top of the thread. The Sony's menus and controls are generally not quite as good or as flexible but with one exception I can 'get there' and I would still rather handle the A7R than the D810, overall, because of that fact and the fact that it is smaller and lighter, by a large margin.

    The exception is the utterly stupid Sony system of Auto ISO, which gives no control over shutter speed preferences. This, taken in combination with the shutter slap, means that it is close to useless as an Auto ISO system for longer lenses.

    Per lens choices, I greatly, greatly prefer the A7R. I can use a Canon TSE lens (the Nikon wides generally aren't very good) and I can use any Nikon lens I like, such as my Zeiss 21. There are quite a few good Nikkor lenses but they tend to be ones which I wouldn't use that much. I really like the FE lenses Sony 55 1.8, 35mm f2.8 and 24-70 f4. The Nikon mid range zooms always p***d me off to be frank. So for the Nikon I will mostly use:

    Sigma Art 50mm 1.4
    Nikon 70-200 F4
    Zeiss 21 F2.8
    Samyang 14

    (I won't be buying back the 28 F1.8, the Sigma 35 Art, the 24-120 or 24-70 because they all had design compromises that didn't suit my needs well)

    I will then fill in the gaps only a little because what I really intend to do is use the A7R most of the time, and to revert to Sony completely if and when they fix the A7R's shutter slap in an updated camera that also has better tracking performance... for me it's not about the marginal IQ gains (with one exception) but about the better cushioned shutter for telephoto work and the better tripod usage and the better tracking focus...

    That one exception is the DR, which I think is amazing on the D810 - DXo has it at 0.7 stops better but to me it feels like a full stop: it is almost impossible to find a real-world scene which is beyond it.

    Final thought: the exposure on the D810 seems less prone to blowing the highlights. It might even be a bit too protective. But given the ability to bring back shadows, it is pretty darned amazingly good....

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    Senior Member JohnBrew's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    So, Tim, does that mean you are keeping it?

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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Thanks for all that Tim, it's very interesting to read how people view things. I know when I buy things it takes weeks for me to settle and have any real meaningful feedback on what I like and dislike, it's too easy to just go from the gut and then realise that actually things are different, for better or worse, a little further down the line.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what you think in a months time for sure!

    Mat

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrew View Post
    So, Tim, does that mean you are keeping it?
    For now

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Thanks for all that Tim, it's very interesting to read how people view things. I know when I buy things it takes weeks for me to settle and have any real meaningful feedback on what I like and dislike, it's too easy to just go from the gut and then realise that actually things are different, for better or worse, a little further down the line.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what you think in a months time for sure!

    Mat

    I'm sure all sorts of bits and pieces will come out of the woodwork but for now it feels simply like a more refined D800 and therefore quite familiar...

    One thing I have discovered (with no help from the manual!) is that it is possible to use EFC, MUP and delay all at the same time. It ain't obvious but it can be done... and one thing that I have re-discovered is the extreme irritation of having to fine tune AF for each lens!

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    Re: D810 first thoughts and a few shots

    Nice to see you back on here Tim, always value your points and discoveries.

    I've included a couple of studio shots from the other night using my D810, as has been well documented already we are 'slightly' restricted by RAW developers not yet being able to fully develop 810 raws but it doesn't mean you can find a decent shot in there.

    I let my D800E go only a couple of weeks before the 810 arrived so I immediately noticed the better handling which I've mentioned in another thread.

    Observations shooting the D810 in a studio for the first time.

    1. mine struggled to fire initially because the menu defaults to let you fire the camera only when you press the shutter AND when the focus circle says its in focus. In reality you just miss shots, so after fooling around with that and just setting it to 'release' (when I want it to fire NOT when it thinks it should) everything was fine, I also tried it in focus tracking mode and it was an improvement over the D800E but not night and day.

    2. I manually set my temp to 5000K and didn't mind these files looking like they did. Tim what colour temp were your outdoor shots set at if I may ask...?

    3. I used the DNG beta to convert the NEF's and imported into LR, so far as with other NEF's, LR brings them in a little dark, anything from .33 to .8 of a stop. Once the next LR release is out I tend to create a profile for imports that deals with that before I see them so to speak.

    4. Details at ISO 64 in a studio are stunning and they do look more film like (to me) and they are close to MFDB images in a studio, I'm looking at P25/45 files not IQ backs.

    5. I shot with 85mm and 50mm 1.8 AF-S G lenses, nothing super exotic, heavy or expensive and the files are just fine, any 'off' images are down to me not the cam/lenses used.

    6. I like the flat file I get to start with and the much less red in the skin tones... remember this is a freckly, pale, redhead, dialing out the red would have been much worse on older cameras.

    As Jack, Bernhardt and others have stated this camera IS a refinement and 'improvement' it just depends on how you use a camera, what for and what/how you get what you want from it to create your photographs.

    For what I do almost daily this camera is better than the excellent D800E. The thing about the D800/E to me was that it was a highly capable camera and gave me and thousands of users great quality work. But we didn't love it, it did a tremendous job, but it didn't make me get up earlier or stay out later just for the joy of shooting with it.

    The D810 I'm falling for... it feels better, sounds so silky for a DLSR, is responsive and is starting to feel 'as one' in my hands. Yes it's still got too many gizmo's, gadgets, tools and tricks but there is a bit of soul in amongst the Japanese functionality..... We all need a bit of soul in our lives.

    Steve

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