Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera - Full

Nikon Z6 & Z7 Setup and Configuration


Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera - Full

As I did for the Nikon D800 and D810 DSLR cameras, I'm posting the settings I'm using for the Nikon Z7 along with a file you can download to use as a starting point for your own settings.  Doing this forces me to go through every setting available on the camera and to understand what it does.  I'm using the official Nikon Z7 Reference Manual (English version, others available) to gain an understanding of the features.  Some will be familiar if you are coming from other Nikon bodies, others are brand new found only in the Z7.  Note that the majority of these settings apply to the Nikon Z6 as well.

Unlike the D800/D810 that used four memory banks that were selectable in the software, the Z7 has three user configurable settings (U1, U2, U3) not unlike a D750 or D7500.  I find this option far superior, personally.  Also, in the D800/D810 I devoted one of the memory banks to a "point & shoot" type setup where the camera did as much of the work as possible.  This was useful for my wife, who doesn't want to mess with settings.  The Z7 has a fully automatic mode (Auto) selectable via the mode dial which is idea for this type of use.

I have set the three modes on my Z7 to preconfigure the camera into landscape, action, or portrait settings.  Often, I make minor adjustments from the standard settings depending on what is required.  If you want to use my custom settings in your camera, feel free to download my settings file here:

Firmware C: 1.00, LF: 1.00 : Download Nikon Z7 custom settings file 1.00

New firmware: I'll get to it eventually, sorry :/

I suggest you back up your own settings first (SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> save settings, copy the settings file from the media card to your computer). To use my custom settings file, copy it to the root folder of your media card using your computer, insert the media card into your camera and navigate to SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will copy the settings over to your camera.  Once complete, update the copyright and image comment settings to your own.  If you have questions, or a suggestion feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page, I'll maintain a change log of any significant changes in my change log and post updated files as new firmware is released.

The settings are all shown below.  Use the search feature at the top of the table if you are looking for a specific setting.



U1 : Landscape

U2 : Action

U3 : Portrait

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Display 7

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide


Release mode Note 1

As needed

Continuous L (3)

Continuous H (extended)

Continuous L (3)

Monitor Mode ButtonPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinder
Exposure ModeAs selected by mode dialAperture PriorityShutter PriorityAperture Priority


Playback folderAllAllAllAll
Playback display options"Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview"
Image reviewOffOffOffOff
After deleteContinue as beforeContinue as beforeContinue as beforeContinue as before
After burst, showLast image in burstLast image in burstLast image in burstLast image in burst
Rotate tallOffOffOffOff
Slide showAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
RatingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed


Storage folderDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
File namingI set to my initials: MKHMKHMKHMKH
Choose image areaFXFXFXFX
Image qualityRAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)
Image sizeLargeLargeLargeLarge
NEF (RAW) recording

> NEF (RAW) compression

On - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressed

> NEF (RAW) bit depth

ISO sensitivity settingsManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on scene

> ISO sensitivity

64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)

> Auto ISO sensitivity control

As neededAs neededAs neededAs needed

>> Maximum sensitivity

12,800 (higher than this and the files are unusable)




>> Maximum sensitivity with flash





>> Minimum shutter speed

Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)
White balanceAuto1 (irrelevant if shooting raw but useful to preview photos on the LCD)




Set Picture Control

Auto (Irrelevant if shooting RAW.  The only time I ever change this is to set it to Monochrome to preview in-camera what a B&W image would look like)

Manage Picture ControlI don't use it
Color SpaceAdobeAdobeAdobeAdobe
Active D-LightingOffOffOffOff
Long exposure NROff (turning it on doubles your exposure times as the camera takes a second dark frame exposure to subtract noise)OffOffOff
High ISO NROffOffOffOff
Vignette controlOffOffOffOff
Diffraction compensationOn (I suspect this doesn?t apply to RAW files but until I can confirm I will leave it on)OnOnOn
Auto distortion controlOn (can't turn off with Z-mount lens)OnOnOn
Flicker reduction shootingOffOffOffOn
Flash modeFill flashFill flashFill flashFill flash
Flash compensation0000

Focus mode Note 2


AF-area mode Note3

Wide-area AF (S)Single-point AF - often manual focus override using 100% zoom on the LCDDynamic-area AFAuto-area AF
Vibration reduction

On (Normal)

On (Normal).  Off when on tripod.

SPT (Sport)

On (Normal)

Auto bracketingOffIf needed (AE bracketing, 3-5 shots, increment 2)OffOff
Multiple exposureOffOffOffOff
Interval timer shootingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Time-lapse movieAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Focus shift shootingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Silent photographyAs needed (note that turning this feature on disables some other features such as flicker reduction, EFC and changes frame ratesAs needed


As needed


File naming Note5

I set to my initials: MKHMKHMKHMKH
Choose image areaFXFXFXFX
Frame size/frame rate2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)
Movie qualityHighHighHighHigh
Movie file typeMOVMOVMOVMOV
ISO sensitivity settingsDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
White balanceAuto1Auto1Auto1Auto1
Set Picture ControlAutoAutoAutoAuto
Manage Picture ControlUnused
Active D-LightingNormalNormalNormalNormal
High ISO NRNormalNormalNormalNormal
Vignette controlNormalNormalNormalNormal
Diffraction compensationOnOnOnOn
Auto distortion controlOnOnOnOn
Flicker reductionAutoAutoAutoAuto
Focus modeFull-time AFFull-time AFFull-time AFFull-time AF
AF-area modeAuto-area AFAuto-area AFAuto-area AFAuto-area AF
Vibration reductionOnOnOnOn
Electronic VROffOffOffOff
Microphone sensitivityAutoAutoAutoAuto
Frequency responseWideWideWideWide
Wind noise reductionOffOffOffOff
Headphone volume15151515


a Autofocus
a1 AF-C priority selectionFocusFocusReleaseFocus
a2 AF-S priority selectionFocusFocusFocusFocus
a3 Focus tracking with lock-on1252
a4 Auto-area AF face detectionOnOnOnOn
a5 Focus points usedAllAll1/2 Every other pointAll
a6 Store points by orientationOffOffOffOff
a7 AF activationAF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Enable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)
a8 Limit AF-area mode selectionAll checkedAll checkedAll checkedAll checked
a9 Focus point wrap-aroundWrapWrapWrapWrap
a10 Focus point options

> Manual focus mode


> Dynamic-area AF assist

a11 Low-light AFOnOnOnOn
a12 Built-in AF-assist illuminatorOffOffOffOff
b Metering/exposure
b1 EV steps for exposure cntrl1/3 step1/3 step1/3 step1/3 step
b2 Easy exposure compensationOffOffOffOff
b3 Center-weighted area12mm12mm12mm12mm
b4 Fine-tune optimal exposureDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
c1 Shutter-release button AE-LOffOffOffOff
c2 Self-timerAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
c3 Power off delay

> Playback


> Menus


> Image review


> Standby timer

d Shooting/display
d1 CL mode shooting speed3333
d2 Max. continuous release200200200200
d3 Sync. Release mode optionsSyncSyncSyncSync
d4 Exposure delay modeOff


d5 Shutter typeAutoElectronic front-curtain shutterMechanical shutterAuto
d6 Limit selectable image areaAll checkedAll checkedAll checkedAll checked
d7 File number sequence OnOnOnOn
d8 Apply settings to live viewAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
d9 Framing grid displayOffOnOffOff
d10 Peaking highlightsAs neededOnOffOn

> Peaking level

As needed2 (standard)Off3 (high sensitivity)

> Peaking highlight color





d11 View all in continuous modeOnOnOnOn
e Bracketing/flash
e1 Flash sync speed1/200s1/200s1/200s1/200s
e2 Flash shutter speed1/60s1/60s1/60s1/60s
e3 Exposure comp. for flashEntire frameEntire frameEntire frameEntire frame
e4 Auto flash ISO sensitivity controlSubject and backgroundSubject and backgroundSubject and backgroundSubject and background
e6 Auto bracketing (mode M)Flash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speed
e5 Modelling flashOnOnOnOn
e7 Bracketing orderUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > over
f Controls
f1 Customize i menu

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

f2 Custom control assignment Note 4

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

f3 OK button

> Shooting mode


> Playback mode

Zoom on/offZoom on/offZoom on/offZoom on/off
f4 Shutter spd & aperture lock

> Shutter speed lock


> Aperture lock

f5 Customize command dials

> Reverse rotation


> Change main/sub


> Menus and playback

On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)

> Sub-dial frame advance

f6 Release button to use dialOffOffOffOff
f7 Reverse indicators- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +
g Movie
g1 Customize i menu

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

g2 Custom control assignmentPersonal preferencePersonal preferencePersonal preferencePersonal preference
g3 OK buttonResetResetResetReset
g4 AF speed2 (Always)2 (Always)2 (Always)2 (Always)
g5 AF tracking sensitivity3333
g6 Hightlight displayOffOffOffOff


Format memory cardAs needed
Save user settingsAs needed
LanguageAs needed
Time zone and dateAs needed
Monitor brightness0
Monitor color balanceDefault
Viewfinder brightnessAuto
Viewfinder color balanceDefault
Control panel brightnessAuto
Limit monitor mode selectionAll checked
Information display B (dark on light)
AF fine-tuneAs needed
Non-CPU lens dataAs needed
Clean image sensorClean at shutdown
Image Dust Off ref photoAs needed
Image CommentOff
Copyright informationSet your name/site here
Beep optionsOff
Touch controlsOn (default)
Location dataBoth on
Wireless remote (WR) optionsDefault
Assign remote (WR) Fn buttonOff
Airplane modeAs needed
Connect to smart deviceAs needed
Connect to PCAs needed
Wireless transmitter (WT-7)As needed
Conformity markingAs needed
Battery infoAs needed
Slot emptry release lockLock
Save/load settingsAs needed
Reset all settingsAs needed
Firmware versionAs needed

RETOUCH MENU (I don't use it)


d4 Exposure delay mode
d5 Shutter type
Vibration reduction
Silent photography
Apply settings to live view
Format memory card

Note 1: Release mode

The User Settings (U1/U2/U3) do not retain the release mode settings.  If you switch user modes you need to remember to switch the release mode (single, continuous, etc.)

Note 2: Focus Mode

I use the 'AF-ON' or 'back button autofocus' technique (for lack of a better term) to focus my camera. You will see that in my settings, I primarily use AF-C as the default focus mode when I use the camera. With the AF-ON technique, you decouple the focusing of the camera from the shutter press. The nice thing is that you can have both continuous, static autofocus, and manual focus modes all at the same time. Focus and recompose is also easier as you don’t have to keep the shutter half-pressed, just release the AF-ON button and the camera stops focusing. It works very well, but takes a bit of getting used to. This technique works on both Nikon and Canon cameras (likely other brands as well but I haven’t checked into it).

Note 3: AF-area Mode

This will be subject to change after more testing. I'm not yet sure how well the Z7 tracks faces in the Auto-area AF mode.

Note 4: Custom control assignment (f2)

  • Fn1 button : Zoom on/off -> Low magnification (50%).  Allows me to zoom in 50% to check for critical focus.
  • Fn2 button : My Menu - quick access to my most commonly used settings (see above for what I keep in the menu).
  • AF-On : AF-On
  • Sub-selector : Focus point selection
  • Sub-selector center : Spot metering (useful for a quick metering override if I'm in matrix and it's not exposing the scene properly.
  • Movie record button : Auto bracketing.  Unlike the D800/D810 I'm used to, the Z7 does not have a dedicated bracket button so I reassigned the movie record button which is otherwise useless in photo mode.
  • Lens Fn button : Spot metering.  I sometimes shoot birds and a dark bird in a bright scene often gets exposed incorrectly.  Spot metering lets me get exposure on the bird, not the scene.
  • Lens control ring : Focus (M/A).  Manual focus override, same as most lenses.

Note 5: Movie Shooting Menu/Settings

Despite having the option to shoot video with my cameras, I very rarely do. Please don't consider my video settings optimal, I almost never need them.

Nikon Z7 Setup - Change Log

2019-12-15Added c2 Self-timer to "My Menu" for quick access.
2019-12-15Update d5 Shutter type to use the auto shutter type feature.
2019-12-15Fix AF area mode in U1 - removed pinpoint as it only works with AF-S which I never use.
2019-12-15Update lens Fn button. Now have a lens that has this button (Nikkor 500mm f/5.6PF) so using it for spot metering for tricky subjects.
2019-12-15Change Fn1 buttom from DoF preview to zoom in to 50% magnification
2018-10-10Initial publication

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64

Nikon Z7 Banding Test

Update: ISO 3200 test follows below.

I just picked up a new Nikon Z7 and there have been multiple reports of banding in recovered shadow areas.  I decided to test this for myself to see when the problem might crop up.  I shot a desk in my office with a monitor (seems to show up more on flat black surfaces).  There was a lot of back light so the monitor is underexposed even in the 0EV frame.  Settings:

  • RAW (NEF)
  • Processed by Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 7.5 (Camera Raw 10.5)
  • No processing except:
    • Profile: Adobe Color
    • White Balance: Daylight
  • Exposure settings for each photo noted below.


  • Banding is an issue for files pushed +4EV or greater.
  • Banding is not visible at normal viewing sizes.
  • Noise reduction can smooth out the banding effect.
Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64
0EV 1/60s f/4 ISO64

100% crop from the above image in the top right corner of the monitor.  No visible banding (as expected)

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64 crop
0EV 1/60s f/4 ISO64 - 100% crop


I then took another shot, this time with exposure compensation at -3EV, resulting shot is definitely underexposed.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
-3EV 1/500s f/4 ISO64

The underexposed file then pushed in Lightroom to +3EV (exposure was the only adjustment).  Resulting image:

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
Underexposed image pushed+3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from the +3 push.  No visible banding.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
100% crop from +3 EV push in Lightroom


The underexposed file then pushed in Lightroom to +4EV (exposure was the only adjustment).  Resulting image:

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +4EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
+4EV push in Lightroom - 1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from +4 EV push.  No visible banding in the deep shadows.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +4EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
Crop from +4EV push

However, I did see some banding crop up in some of the transition areas (light to dark) at the bottom of the monitor.  It's slight but visible at 100%.

Nikon Banding Z7


Finally, I did a +5EV push of the underexposed image.  This is now very over exposed and not usable but useful for testing.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +5EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
-3EV image pushed +5EV in Lightroom  1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from the +5EV image.  It's slightly visible when I check at 100% in Lightroom but might not come across in the exported jpg very well.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +5EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
100% crop from image pushed +5EV in Lightoom.

As before, most visible in the light to dark transition areas.  100% below.


Looking in other areas of the image (not just the black monitor), I can see slight banding in the +4EV and +5EV pushed images.  Typically when you bump up shadows you introduce noise and in many cases some noise reduction is warranted.  I observed that adding noise reduction smoothed out the effect of the banding, though it was still present.  Further, the banding isn't visible at normal viewing sizes and only becomes visible as you zoom in (50% or larger viewing sizes).  For print, this would translate to 14 inches on the long edge assuming no crop and 300dpi.  Anything smaller and I suspect it wouldn't be visible.

For me, I can't remember ever pushing files to +4EV or greater.  If I see a very high contrast scene I will often do some exposure bracketing so that I can capture detail in the shadows without pushing the file in post.  I'll then blend the images for best results, and that type of workflow should avoid banding (I'll test this in the future).  If I have to push files that far, they are likely just casual shots I'll post on facebook and none of my friends would know the difference.  For me, this banding is a non issue.

Banding Test at ISO 3200

After posting some examples at base ISO (64) , a comment was made that the banding would become visible with less drastic editing if a higher ISO was used.  I decided to test this by shooting the same scene at ISO3200.  Results are below.


  • My testing show that banding is NOT visible at ISO3200 regardless of how much the file is pushed in Lightroom.  I think the noise at higher ISO will mask any banding present.

First, normal exposure (exposure comp at 0EV).  The scene has fairly extreme contrast between light (bright sunlight outside) and dark (no interior lights on, black monitor).

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) - Nikon Z7 high contrast scene, sensor banding issue
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600)


Now the same scene but camera has exposure compensation set to -3EV

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600)
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600)

Pushing the underexposed file by +3EV in Lightroom

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +3EV push : High ISO banding in the Nikon Z 7 mirrorless camera
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) with +3EV push in post


100% crop from the +3EV push.  I'm unable to find any visible banding in the image.

-3EV Underexposed (1.8000 f8 ISO1600) +3EV push, 100% crop - Nikon Z7 banding at high ISO
-3EV Underexposed (1.8000 f8 ISO1600) +3EV push, 100% crop


Now a +5EV push of the underexposed file.  I find the file far too noisy to be useful so this is just an academic exercise to understand the behaviour of the sensor.

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push - Nikon Z7
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push


100% crop from the +5EV push.  It's ugly but I don't see banding, just a lot of noise.

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000 f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push, 100% crop
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000 f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push, 100% crop


Finally, I tried some editing the 'properly' exposed file (0EV) using highlight and shadow recovery.  Here the exposure is adjusted to +1EV, shadows at +100, hightlights at -100.

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100

100% crop from the edited file, no visible banding.  I checked the whole image and could not detect banding anywhere.

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100, 100% crop
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100, 100% crop


My conclusion is that high ISO noise masks banding and, at least for ISO 3200, banding will not be an issue in editing (noise will be, as it is with any other sensor).  I might do more testing in the future to get an idea at which ISO the banding starts to become less noticeable.

Nikon D800 Top

What is Nikon Thinking? D300S, D7100, D610, D700, D750, Df, D810, D4s Compared

With the release of the D750, I'm starting to wonder what Nikon is thinking with their lineup.  Shooters I know are waiting for a true replacement for both the D300s and the D700.  Arguments can be made that the D7100 replaces the D300s, and the D750 replaces the D700.  However, an equal number (and maybe more) arguments can be made that no replacements exist.  In this post, I'll quickly cover some of the specs that differentiate the cameras that are current in the lineup.  Nikon has a lot of bodies on their site but I wouldn't consider many of them current (D90, really?).  Here, I'll just look at the D300s, D7100, D610, D700, D750, Df, D810 and the D4s.  The other bodies (D7000, D4, etc. that Nikon still lists are all very similar to at least one model discussed below).












Release Date 2009 2013 2014 2008 2014 2013 2014 2014
Price $1500 $1200 $2000 $2500 $2300 $2750 $3300 $6500
Sensor Resolution (MP) 12 24 24 12 24 16 36 16

 Nikon DSLR Lineup: Price vs Megapixels

Nikon DSLR Lineup Price vs Megapixels Sept 2014: D3300, D5300, D300s, D7100, D610, D700, D750, Df, D810, D4s

(Click for larger)


I'm not listing the spec of the lower end cams in the table, but they are shown on the graph above. In general the price curve makes sense, even if the D3300 is a kit price (with lens) and the rest are body-only. Higher spec bodies are higher in price.

  • The D4s takes a huge jump in price, but it is as the top of the lineup and does offer great performance.
  • The majority of the Nikon lineup now uses as 24 megapixel sensor, which is plenty of resolution for almost any application.  It must be a sweet spot for price and performance.  Now I realize that megapixels are not the only measure of performance but they do play a role, many consumers still stick to 'more is better'.  The current cameras present a marketing challenge for Nikon, and so far they have not done a good job of telling us why you would buy one model over another.
  • The D300s is sitting with just 12 megapixels (APS-C), for less money you get a much more capable camera in a D7100 but you give up build quality and familiar ergonomics.
  • The D700 is also sitting at 12 megapixels (full frame), and Nikon has options that are more capable but unfortunately not in the same body.  The D750 has a better sensor (six years of evolution is an eternity in the tech world), but in a lesser body.  The D810 has a better sensor (best on the market in any DSLR), but with a much lower frame rate.  There is no clear upgrade path.
  • The Df is an oddball too, having only 16 megapixels, no flash, no video, and a mix of modern and classic controls.

Let's look at a few more stats.










ISO Range 200 - 3200 100 - 6400 100 - 6400 200 - 6400 100 - 12800 100 - 12800 64 - 12800 100 - 25600
AF Points 51 51 39 51 51 39 51 51
Max Shutter 1/8000 1/8000 1/4000 1/8000 1/4000 1/4000 1/8000 1/8000
Frame Rate 7/8 6 6 5/8 6 5.5 5 11

 Nikon DSLR Lineup: Price vs Frame Rate

Nikon DSLR Lineup Price vs Frame Rate Sept 2014: D3300, D5300, D300s, D7100, D610, D700, D750, Df, D810, D4s

(Click for larger)


One thing that strikes me is that the D300s is a camera that was released in 2009 and Nikon has nothing since (outside of the very expensive pro bodies) that has bettered the frame rate.  If we look at the D700 it's even more apparent (8fps with grip).  Both the D300s and D700 feature pro build and ergonomics, fast frame rates, great autofoucs and other related 'pro' features (flash sync speed, max shutter, etc.).  The D7100 comes close to replacing the D300s, but you need to accept a different style body with different ergonomics.  Same for the D610 or D750 replacing the D700, they don't truly do so. To me, the Df is a waste of time.  Sure, it's good in low light but that is because it has a great sensor.  The rest of it is there just to get the old guys to buy it for nostalgia.  It is crippled with a poor AF module (relative to price), no video (that isn't a 'feature'), and more. Anyone who was going to buy one did so already, ditch it.  The D750 should have been a pro body (controls same as a D810), with 16 or 24 megapixels.  In fact, this is what I think Nikon should have done, if you don't agree let me know :)











Body Consumer Pro Consumer Pro Pro Pro
Price $1200 $1800 $2000 $2500 $3300 $6500
Sensor Resolution (MP) 24 24 16 24 36 16
ISO Range 100 - 6400 100 - 6400 100 - 6400 100 - 12800 64 - 12800 100 - 25600
AF Points 51 51 39 51 51 51
Max Shutter 1/8000 1/8000 1/4000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000
Frame Rate 6 8 6 8 5 11

To me, it's a more clear lineup. Two capable DX cameras, one in a consumer body and one in a pro body. The pro body will have a faster frame rate, a tougher build, and the same ergonomics as the pro FX bodies. The FX bodies also seem to have a clear distinction between them. Entry level D610 is a consumer type body, with a less capable AF system and slower max shutter (other features may also be worth discussing). The D750 should have been a true successor to the D700, same frame rate and build quality but with double the pixels. The D810 is the high resolution beast and the D4s the speed demon for those that need it. Each one has a clear place in the lineup and people may buy more than one.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : Anti-Glare and Standard

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector for Nikon D800


I'm giving away two Expert Shield screen protectors. Draw will take place on September 19, 2014. No stings, no BS. I have an extra Sony RX100 model and the D800 anti-glare model.


All you have to do is comment on this post with which model you want, add a valid email address (which won't be visible to anyone but me). Winners will be announced here and I'll contact you for a shipping address. Good luck!

Expert Shield Free Draw - Screen protectors for RX100 and D800


Update: I only had entries for the D800 model, and the winner is Peter Looper!  I might run another draw for the RX100 model at another time.

Draw Winner



Some time ago I posted about my issues with the GGS screen protectors.  The first one was faulty, second one was different from the first and had a plastic border which obscured the top and bottom of the LCD.  My third one (same as the first), arrived and it had some scratches on the glass.  I ended up using it, fed up with the whole process.  Needless to say, I wasn't happy with the experience and made worse because you can't seem to contact the company directly.

About a year ago, I purchased a Sony RX-100 and decided to use an Expert Shield screen protector on that camera.  It installed perfectly, no bubbles and you can't seven see it's there.  One year later, it's still on the camera and I have had no problems with it at all.

I decided to finally replace the GGS screen protector on my D800 with an Expert Shield.  I have the standard and anti-glare models, but decided to go with the standard one.  The installation was easy, as before, and the result looks like a naked D800 LCD but I know it's well protected.  Here are a few photos from the process.

The GGS, note how it sits raised above the body.  It isn't a perfect fit, and the one with the plastic frame (gen 2?) is a terrible fit.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : GGS on Nikon D800


Another shot of the GGS.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : GGS on Nikon D800 2


Last one of GGS.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : GGS on Nikon D800 Back


The Expert Shield covers, which come with a microfiber cloth to aid installation.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : Anti-Glare and Standard

Expert Shield mounted on D800, a near-perfect fit for the LCD.  It comes with covers for both the rear and top LCD plates.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : Expert Shield on D800


One more of the Expert Shield, looks and works great.

Expert Shield vs GGS Screen Protector : Expert Shield on D800 Back


Overall, I'm very happy with the product and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good screen protector.  It's much nicer than the standard Nikon covers and works much better than the GGS covers I tried.  I will be using this on all of my cameras from now on.



Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : RAW conversion with Silver Efex Pro 2.0, Photoshop, and Lightroom

Sony RX100 Black & White : Camera vs Silver Efex Pro 2

I love this new Sony RX100, it's a fantastic little camera.  I'm impressed with the quality and that is saying a lot since my other camera is a Nikon D800.  The D800 does spoil you with pixels and huge dynamic range, and you really notice the advantage when you start processing raw files from another camera.  However, the RX100 takes infinitely better images when I leave the big camera at home because it doesn't fit in my pocket.

This post is just showing three images from the RX100,  I was shooting in RAW+JPG in black and white mode.  The first image is straight from the camera.  I used default settings, but you can change contrast and exposure settings in the camera before taking a shot.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : Camera JPG


The image below is the same shot (camera JPG) but with minor processing done in Adobe Lightroom 5.  I think it looks a bit better, there some contrast adjustments, sharpening, vignette, and other minor changes.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : Lightroom Edit

The last image is processed from raw (ARW) using Lightroom 5, Photoshop CS5, and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0.  I think it turned out the best but I also spent more time processing it than the image above.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : RAW conversion with Silver Efex Pro 2.0, Photoshop, and Lightroom


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Autofocus Repair Testing - The Sequel

This is the third time I'm posting about the testing of my D800 autofocus system.  The first time was not long after I purchased it, just to see if it had the problem.  I found that it did have the problem, and I sent it to Nikon for repair.  When the camera came back, I tested it again.  Initially I thought it may have been fixed, but further testing showed there was still a problem.

During this time, I also purchased LensAlign and FocusTune to help me more accurately fine tune my lenses and camera, but also to help me quantify the results.  When I tested my lenses, I noticed that the recommended fine tune values for three of my five lenses was +20 (the highest possible).  This suggested to me that the actual sharpest fine tune value may be even higher than than, but the scale does not allow further adjustment.  Said another way, if the fine tune is at the maximum value, the calibration is not within spec for the camera/lens combination.  I decided to give my D800 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D, and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 to Nikon along with my results to see if they can fix the left autofocus problem plus calibrate the camera for the three lenses.

I finally received my camera back, and had a chance to test it with two lenses.  I tested with the 24-70 and the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR (this lens didn't go to Nikon).  I did not fine tune the camera and lenses before testing, this is how Nikon sent it to me.  I used the same test procedures I outlined previously, with a small twist because I now have FocusTune to help me out.  The results here are all RAW conversions (the only adjustment I made in Lightroom was to convert to grayscale).  I shot in RAW+JPG (L/Fine), I shot a manual focus control shot for each of the five focus test points tested (center, top, bottom, left right - all at the farthest AF points).  Between each autofocus test shot, I defocused away from infinity and took five shots for each focus point.  I then loaded all of the JPG files into FocusTune and for each focus point I found the SHARPEST result from the five samples, so the results here are the best shots from the group.

One thing to note, last time I sent the D800 to Nikon the work order showed "ADJ FOCUS SYSTEM" and "ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION". This time, the work order had:



Service Repair Rank B2








It is worthwhile to note that I was not having any problems with my D800 outside of the autofocus system, I'm not sure why they replaced the o-ring and worked on the electrical system. I see no mention of them even looking at the autofocus system.


Lenses Tested

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED


Test Results

The grouped results for the 105mm lens, 100% crop under the autofocus sensor tested.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mmf/2.8 Micro VR: 105mm Results

Apologies that some of these are dark, I didn't want to make any adjustments so they are presented straight from the camera with no editing.  I don't see any major issues here, the focus system seems to be fairly consistent between all of the points.  Here is a closer look at the 105mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR : 105mm L5 Detail


I would say this is fine, doesn't quite match the manual focus using live view and 100% zoom but I don't think phase detect AF is ever going to be as good.

The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results

Here, the left side AF sensor is clearly softer than the others in the group.  Here is a bigger version of just the left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail


The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm Results

Once again, some softness on the left side.  Bigger version of 70mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm L5 Detail


I would say it's not as bad as the 24mm left side test, however I would not say this is acceptable performance.  The lens works fine at the other focus points, here are details of the performance at the center focus point at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8mm : 24mm C Detail


The 24-70mm center focus point at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm C Detail


Both of these are completely acceptable and would not give me any reason for concern.  However, the left side AF sensors continue to give me grief.  I'm not sure if it's the lens or the body though, because the 105mm seems to focus fine at the left side.  I'll try to test with my 50mm f/1.8G to see how it performs, and I'll post the results here when I'm finished.

 Update, April 2, 2013

The grouped results for the 14-24mm lens at 24mm, center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results


The 14-24 @ 24mm L5 sensor detail.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail



The grouped results for the 50mm, again center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm Results


50mm L5 detail, not terrible but could be better.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm L5 Detail


In general, the whole AF system seems to be a little off.  Fine tune won't fix this as the various AF points don't correlate to each other in how far out of focus they are.  If they were all equally off, fine tune could fix that.  Some, such as the center and lower (C, D2) AF point are excellent, others (such as L5) are consistently off.  If I fine tune, I'll be throwing off the good ones.




Nikon D800 Angle 2

Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration

D800 Big Lens

I now have a page with the setup and configuration for the Nikon D810.

A while back, Out There Images posted a list of recommended settings for the Nikon D800. I used that as a starting point to create four custom menu banks for my most common shooting situations.  The menu banks are not great because they don't save all of the settings you need to change, but they are better than nothing.  The U1/U2 settings of the D7000 and D600 are superior to the menu banks both in terms of features and ease of use.  I have no idea why Nikon has decided to leave out such a fantastic function on their high-end cameras.  Neither the D800 nor the D4 have the U1/U2 settings.  Nice work Nikon.

Here are the four menu banks I created:

  • HDR - sets up the camera for high dynamic range shooting.  I usually use a tripod, have time for manual focus, etc.  If the shutter speed is fairly slow, I also turn on "Exposure delay mode" (custom setting d4).
  • Action - I often use this when photographing dogs at the local animal shelter.
  • Portrait - useful not just for portraits but for any stationary or slow moving target.
  • Point & Shoot - Since I use the "AF-ON" focusing technique (*1), it makes it difficult to hand my camera to a stranger if I want to be in the photo.  Rather than try to explain the technique, I just change the settings and let them shoot.  I also use this mode when I give the camera to my wife, sometimes she just wants to take a few simple shots so this mode shoots in jpeg with things configured to make shooting easier.

The settings for all four modes are outlined below.  Note that the settings just make the starting point for configuration easier.  It doesn't mean these are always the settings I use when shooting.  I may not use ISO100 for all situations nor the same AF settings.  If you want to use them as a starting point for your own custom settings it is easiest to just download my config file here: Nikon D800 custom settings file. You should also grab the custom picture control explained in footnote 3. To use the custom settings file, copy it to your media card, insert the media card into your camera and navigate to SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will copy the settings over to your camera.  You may want to save your own settings before you copy mine to your camera in case you need to revert back.

Note the [change this] in the settings below, these are things you will want to change in your own camera before you start shooting.  At the bottom, you can also see what I put in "MY MENU" to access some controls I often change on the fly.

To switch between the various menu banks, you have several options:

  • The slow way.  Go to menu -> shooting menu -> shooting menu bank -> select your bank.  Then go to custom setting menu -> custom settings bank -> select your bank.
  • I have 'shooting menu bank' and 'custom settings bank' as the top two items of 'my menu'.  This allows me to change the settings relatively quickly but also provides a visual reminder of what banks I'm using when I go into this menu.
  • The fastest way is to simply press the "info" button twice, that should select your shooting bank.  Press the center button in the multi-selector, pick your setting.  Do the same for custom settings bank.

If you have questions, or a suggestion feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page.  If you want more detail on the settings below download Nikon's D800/D800E manual (free), for something even better I recommend Thom Hogan's Complete Guide to the D800/D800E ($30).  Thom not only covers the options but gives you a recommendation on what to use for each setting.

HDR Action Portrait Point & Shoot
Exposure Mode A (Aperture Priority) A (Aperture Priority) A (Aperture Priority) P (Program)
Metering Mode 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering
Bracketing 5F, +/-1 EV (use 7 or 9F if needed) Off Off Off
Shooting Mode Timer CH (continuous high) CH (continuous high) CH (continuous high)
WB Auto Auto Auto Auto
ISO 100 Auto 100 Auto
Autofocus Mode *1 Manual or AF-C, single point AF-C, 3D AF-C, single point AF-S, Auto
Format memory card As needed As needed As needed As needed
Monitor brightness Manual (0) Manual (0) Manual (0) Manual (0)
Clean image sensor Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown
Lock mirror up cleaning As needed As needed As needed As needed
Image Dust Off ref photo As needed As needed As needed As needed
HDMI Default Default Default Default
Flicker reduction Auto Auto Auto Auto
Time zone and date Set to local time Set to local time Set to local time Set to local time
Language English English English English
Auto image rotation On On On On
Battery info N/A N/A N/A N/A
Wireless Transmitter N/A N/A N/A N/A
Image comment *2 None None None None
Copyright Information On [change this] On [change this] On [change this] On [change this]
Save/load settings As needed As needed As needed As needed
Virtual horizon N/A N/A N/A N/A
Non-CPU lens data N/A N/A N/A N/A
AF fine tune Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed
Firmware version N/A N/A N/A N/A
Shooting menu bank A B C D
Extended menu banks ON ON ON ON
Storage folder Default Default Default Default
File Naming MKH [change this] MKH [change this] MKH [change this] MKH [change this]
Primary slot selection CF card slot CF card slot CF card slot CF card slot
Secondary slot function Backup Backup Backup Backup
Image Size N/A N/A N/A Large
Image area
- Auto DX crop On On On On
- Choose Image area FX FX FX FX
JPEG Compression Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality
NEF (RAW) recording
- Type Lossless compressed Lossless compressed Lossless compressed Lossless compressed
- NEF bit depth 14-bit 14-bit 14-bit 14-bit
White Balance Auto1 Auto1 Auto1 Auto1
Set Picture Control *3 Custom (Live View Max Sharp) SD (Standard) PT (Portrait) VI (Vivid)
Manage Picture Control Default Default Default Default
Color Space AdobeRGB AdobeRGB AdobeRGB sRGB
Active D-Lighting Off Off Off Off
HDR (high dyn. range) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) Off
Vignette control Normal Normal Normal High
Auto distortion control On On On On
Long Exp. NR Off Off Off Off
High ISO NR Low Low Low Normal
ISO Sensitivity Settings
ISO sensitivity 100 100 100 100
Auto ISO sensitivity control Off On (Max ISO: 6400, Min shutter: auto,faster) Off On (Max ISO: 6400, Min
shutter: auto,faster)
Multiple exposure Off Off Off Off
Interval timer shooting Off Off Off Off
Time-lapse photography Off Off Off Off
Movie settings
Frame size/rate 1920x1080; 30fps 1920x1080; 30fps 1920x1080; 30fps 1920x1080; 30fps
Movie quality High High High High
Microphone Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity
Destination SD SD SD SD
Sustom settings bank A B C D
a1 AF-C priority select Release Release Release Release
a2 AF-S priority select Focus Focus Focus Focus
a3 Focus track lock-on Off Long Short Normal
a4 AF Activation Off (AF-ON focus technique) Off (AF-ON focus technique) Off (AF-ON focus technique) On
a5 AF point illumination On On On On
a6 Focus point wrap Off Off Off Off
a7 Number of focus points 51 51 51 51
a8 Built-in AF assist illum Off Off Off Off
b1 ISO sensitivity step val. 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b2 EV steps for exposure 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b3 Exp./flash comp step 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b4 Easy exposure comp. Off Off Off Off
b5 Center-weighted area 12mm 12mm 12mm 12mm
b6 Fine tune optimal exp. 0 (for all) 0 (for all) 0 (for all) 0 (for all)
c1 Shutter-release AE-L Off Off Off Off
c2 Auto meter-off delay 10s 10s 10s 10s
c3 Self-timer
- Self-timer delay 2s 10s 10s 10s
- Number of shots 5 (should match # bracket exposures) 1 1 1
- Interval between shots 0.5s 0.5s 0.5s 0.5s
c4 Monitor off delay
- Playback 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Menus 1m 1m 1m 1m
- Information display 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Image review 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Live view 10m 10m 10m 10m
d1 Beep Off Off Off Off
d2 CL mode shoot speed 2fps 2fps 2fps 2fps
d3 Max continuous release 100 100 100 100
d4 Exposure delay mode Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow)
d5 File number sequence On On On On
d6 Viewfinder grid display On On On On
d7 ISO display adjustment Off Off Off Off
d8 Screen tips On On On On
d9 Information display Auto Auto Auto Auto
d10 LCD illumination On On On On
d11 MB-D12 battery type LR6 LR6 LR6 LR6
d12 Battery order MB-D12 MB-D12 MB-D12 MB-D12
e1 Flash Sync Speed 1/250 1/250 1/250 1/250
e2 Flash shutter speed 1/60 1/60 1/60 1/60
e3 Flash cntrl built-in TTL TTL TTL TTL
e4 Modeling flash On On On On
e5 Auto bracketing set AE AE AE AE
e6 Auto bracket (Mode M) Flash/speed Flash/speed Flash/speed Flash/speed
e7 Bracketing order Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over
f1 switch LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display
f2 Multiselect center button
- Shooting mode Reset Reset Reset Reset
- Playback mode Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification
- Live view Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification
f3 Multi selector Off Off Off Off
f4 Assign Fn button
- Fn button press Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon
- Fn button + command dials Off Off Off Off
f5 Assign preview button
- Preview button press Preview Preview Preview Preview
- Preview button + command dials Off Off Off Off
f6 Assign AE-L/AF-L button
- AE-L/AF-L button press AE/AF lock AE/AF lock AE/AF lock AE/AF lock
- AE-L/AF-L + command dials Off Off Off Off
f7 Shutter spd & ap lock N/A N/A N/A N/A
f8 Assign BKT Button BKT BKT BKT BKT
f9 Cust. command dials Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off)
f10 Release button to use  dial Off Off Off Off
f11 Slot emply release lock Lock Lock Lock Lock
f12 Reverse indicators - 0 + - 0 + - 0 + - 0 +
g1 Assign Fn button Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open)
g2 Assign preview button Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close)
g3 Assign AE-L/AF-L AE Lock AE Lock AE Lock AE Lock
g4 Assign shutter button Take photos Take photos Take photos Take photos
Delete Selected Selected Selected Selected
Playback folder ND800 (default) ND800 (default) ND800 (default) ND800 (default)
Hide image Default Default Default Default
Playback display options Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview
Copy image(s) N/A N/A N/A N/A
Image review Off Off Off Off
After delete Show next Show next Show next Show next
Rotate tall Off Off Off Off
Slide show N/A N/A N/A N/A
DPOF print order N/A N/A N/A N/A
Shooting menu Bank
Custom settings bank
c3 Self-timer
d4 Exposure delay mode
ISO sensitivity settings
Long exposure NR
Active D-Lighting


*1 - Autofocus : I have started using the "AF-ON" technique (for lack of a better term) to focus my camera. You can read more about the technique here. You will see that in my settings, I primarily use AF-C as the default focus mode when I use the camera. With the AF-ON technique, you decouple the focusing of the camera from the shutter press. The nice thing is that you can have both continuous and static autofocus at the same time. Focus and recompose is also easier as you don't have to keep the shutter half-pressed, just release the AF-ON button and the camera stops focusing. It works very well, but takes a bit of getting used to. This technique works on both Nikon and Canon cameras (likely other brands as well but I haven't checked into it).

*2 - Image comment : There are two spots to put your personal info into the file EXIF data: "Image comment" and "Copyright information". Some people use both, but there isn't really a reason to do so. I have found one reason not to use the 'image comment' field, and that is because the comment shows up in the description field when you post images online (facebook for example). At times, I post images to facebook and I don't want the description for each one to say "copyright 2013...", blah, blah, blah. My friends want to see something about the image, not a copyright notice. For me, it just makes the upload process more time consuming and it doesn't add any value. You may like it, so feel free to use the field if that fits into your workflow.

*3 - Set Picture Control : The live view of the Nikon D800 isn't great, but I still use it at times to get sharp focus. I zoom in the live view display and manually focus the lens to the best setting. If you change the picture control to the highest sharpening level you actually get a better display. Since I almost always shoot in raw, this has no effect on the final image. You can edit your existing picture control but it's best to create a new, custom, one. To make this easier, you can download a custom picture control I created called Live View Max Sharp. Unzip the file, you should see a "Nikon" folder, copy that to the top level (root) of your flash card and put the card into your camera. In the menu, go to SHOOTING MENU (camera icon)-> Manage picture control -> Load/save -> Copy to camera => Live View Max Sharp, click "OK". Select one of the custom picture control spaces to use (C1..C9) and you are done. Now you still have all of your default picture controls plus the new one to pick from.

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Left Side

Nikon D600 Vs Canon 6D - Entry Level Full Frame Scrap

Photographers should be happy, both Nikon and Canon have released 'affordable' full frame cameras into their lineup. Nikon is already shipping theirs while Canon simply announced a camera with availability in a few months. Nothing like a 'me too' announcement when the competition gets the jump on you. Nikon is first to market with the D600, a $2100 USD, 24 megapixel camera. Canon follows up with the 6D, a $2100, 20 megapixel camera.

This year, there seems to be a shift towards Nikon in terms of technical camera performance. Before the latest models were released, Canon had a highly successful offering in the 5D Mark II, a 21 megapixel full frame camera with high quality video capability for $2700 (at launch).  Nikon could not compete on video spec, or resolution with the D700 and D3S having only 12 megapixels.  The insanely priced D3X had 24 megapixels but at $8000 it did not compete well with Canon's offering.

Fast forward to 2012 and Nikon has a 36 megapixel D800 ($3000), a 24 megapixel D600 ($2100), and a 16 megapixel D4 ($6000).  Canon in turn released the 5D Mark III adding only 1 megapixel for a total of 22 and is now charging $3500 for the body.  It follows that with a 20 megapixel 6D for $2100 and an 18 megapixel 1D X for $6800.  Megapixels are not everything, but looking at the full frame landscape today it's obvious that Nikon didn't like taking a back seat and has come back with a vengence.

All those megapixels don't mean much if they don't perform well.  Not only did Nikon ratchet up the resolution they also developed some high quality sensors as well.  Looking at the DxO Mark scores you can see that Nikon is at the top of the pile in DSLR performance these days.

DxO Mark D600 D800 5D Mark III


Looking at the scores, it's a thorough trashing of Canon. The Nikon cameras have a history of good dynamic range, but the new sensors really take it up a notch. Even the entry level D600 beats Canon's 5DIII. Unfortunately, the 6D scores are not available yet but I'm sure they will be lower than those of the 5DIII. Canon has some catching up to do in the next refresh of the lineup though I doubt Nikon will rest on their laurels.

With the sensor discussion out of the way (mostly), we can see how other features of the two entry level cameras stack up. Comparing the physical cameras first.

Left side view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Left Side

Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Left Side


Rear view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Back


Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Back


Front view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Front


Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Front


Top view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Top


Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Top


Nikon seems to put more buttons on their cameras, especially on the front. I can't comment much on the handling of the Canon cameras as I haven't spent much time with them so I'll reserve judgement on ergonomics and accessibility of features only to say that Nikon is clearly better ;)


Now looking at the basic specs.


Nikon D600

Canon 6D

Sensor Resolution (MP) 24.3 megapixels 20.2 megapixels
Max Image Resolution 6,016 x 4,016 5,472 x 3,648
Viewfinder Pentaprism Pentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage 100% 97%
Built-in Flash Yes (with wireless control) No
Storage Media Dual SD card Single SD card
Frame rate 5.5 fps 4.5 fps
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 to 30 sec 1/4000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability 150,000 100,000
Native ISO 100-6,400 100-25,600
Boosted ISO 50-25,600 50-102,400
Autofocus 39-point AF with 9 cross type 11-point AF with 1 cross-type
Autofocus Detection f/8 f/5.6
GPS Via adapter Built-in
Wifi Via Eye-Fi Built-in


Nikon is clearly ahead in almost all of the performance specs. It has higher resolution, faster frame rates, better autofocus, and dual storage cards. Canon has better ISO numbers but I suspect the D600 will be clearly superior in low light performance compared to the 6D. Makes no difference if the 6D goes to 100K ISO, those photos are not usable. The DxO Mark scores already show that the D600 is better than the much more expensive 5D Mark III so it's unlikely the 6D will fare any better. Canon throws in some gizmos like GPS and Wifi to try and distract you from the obvious performance gap.

It's unlikely anyone would jump ship form one brand to another as an investment in lenses usually means the cost to switch is significantly higher than simply the cost of the body. I'm sure the 6D will be a capable camera however if you are new to the DSLR world and considering these two models the Nikon D600 is a technically better camera.

Also see: Nikon D7000 vs D600 vs D800.

Nikon D7000, D600, D800 Visual Comparison : Front and Rear View

Nikon D7000 vs D600 vs D800 : A Quick Comparison

Nikon just announced their new entry level full frame DSLR camera, the D600. It wasn't a very well kept secret as leaks started getting out months ago. There was speculation that this would be a sub-$2000 USD camera but in the end the retail price at launch is $2100. Still a good price considering the sensor and other options. It looks like a blend between a D7000 and D800 both in terms of spec and appearance. Below you can see some of the similarities and differences between the three bodies.

The Nikon D600 with Nikkor 200mm f/2 lens.
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Nikkor 200mm f/2 Lens


I'm not gong to rehash the full specification of any camera. Nikon and many other reviews provide that info already. If you want to check into the details, here are the spec sheets for the three cameras: D7000, D600, D800.


What I do want to cover is how the cameras are similar and how they are different. Just taking a look at the camera, it looks like Nikon took a D7000 body and shoehorned a full frame sensor inside. Some modifications to the body were necessary, but for the most part the cameras are very similar in terms of layout.


Nikon D600 Front View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camra : Front View

Nikon D600 Right Side View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Right Side View


Nikon D600 Left Side View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Left Side View


Nikon D600 Rear View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Rear View


Nikon D600 Top View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Top View


Finally, a comparison between the D7000, D600, and D800
Nikon D7000, D600, D800 Visual Comparison : Front and Rear View


If you look at the three bodies, you can see that the D600 has some controls more like a D7000 and others more like a D800. Not a bad thing for a model that fits in between the two in the lineup. Users on either end of the spectrum should be comfortable with the controls, though I think it's more like a D7000 and targeted at the consumer/hobby segment of the market.


Nikon D700 users who were hoping for a clear upgrade path didn't get one. Nikon provided a clear upgrade for the D3S in the D4, but the D700 was essentially split into two cameras. The D800 a higher resolution but slower camera (which also replaced the D3X) and a D600 which is a smaller and less feature rich body. For professionals, the upgrade path is likely the D800 due to it's ergonomics, autofocus speed, full magnesium body, compact flash storage, flash sync, max shutter speed, and shutter durability. For hobby shooters, serious amateurs, and pros who need a back up body the D600 may be the better choice. It still provides great image quality in a smaller and lighter package. Regardless, the D600 at $2100 US is destined to sell very well.


In terms of pricing, Nikon has a very linear price curve at the lower end of the lineup. It's clear that they want to hit every market segment and ensure they capture every type of buyer. Having said that, the D300S seems to be the most in need of an update and without it in the lineup there would be a significant gap between the D7000 and the D600. To me, this means that a D400 will be announced in the not too distant future. It will likely carry on the tradition of a high end, high-speed crop sensor (DX) body with pro level ergonomics.
Nikon DSLR Prices : D3200, D5100, D7000, D300S, D600, D800, D4


Differences between the cameras button layouts are obvious, no big surprises for anyone used to shooting a Nikon body. There are also some significant differences inside the shells as well.





Sensor Resolution (MP) 16.2 megapixels 24.3 megapixels 36.3megapixels
Sensor Size APS-C (DX) Full frame (FX) Full frame (FX)
Max Resolution (pixels) 4928 x 3264 6016 x 4016 7360 x 4912
DX Resolution (MP) 16.2 megapixels 10.3 megapixels 15.3 megapixels
DX Resolution (pixels) 4928 x 3264 3,936 x 2,624 4,800 x 3,200
Sensor Pixel Size 4.78µ 5.9µ 4.8µ


The D800 is clearly the resolution leader, not just for Nikon but all DSLR cameras as of September 2012 (and likely for some time to come). The D800 also holds it's own quite well even when shot in DX mode. If you need the extra reach or still have DX lenses you get file sizes almost exactly the same as a D7000 but with the benefit of the better sensor and processing. However, no one should buy the D800 and shoot it in DX mode, use it just until you transition your lenses to FX or the odd time you don't need the full 36mp. If you plan to shoot DX all the time, save yourself $2000 and buy a D7000. The D600 has the biggest pixels, and likely the best pixel level noise traits but that is not relevant because what matters is noise level in the final image (on screen or in print). Downsampling a 36mp D800 file to the same resolution has noise benefits. I'm sure there will be a lot of comparisons between these two cameras very soon.






Frame Rate 6 fps 5.5 fps 4 fps (FX), 6 fps (DX with grip)
U1 & U2 Modes? YES YES NO :(
Sync Speed 1/250 1/200 1/250
Max Shutter 1/8000 1/4000 1/8000
Storage Media Dual SD cards Dual SD cards 1 compact flash + 1 SD card
Price $1000 USD $2100 USD $3000 USD


All three of these cameras have weather sealing, pentaprism (not pentamirror), 100% viewfinder coverage which is a good thing. D600 doesn't have USB 3.0, but who cares (most people use a card reader). The biggest disappointment for many users when the D800 was announced was the 4 fps shooting rate in FX mode. That is quite slow by modern DSLR standards but somewhat understandable when you see how much data is being crunched in that time. The D600 and D7000 are a more reasonable 5.5 and 6 fps respectively. I doubt anyone will complain about those specifications, they are fast enough for any enthusiast. The d600 gets the U1/U2 modes just like the D7000, it boggles the mind why Nikon did not include this on the D800. The menu banks are a joke by comparison, I don't even use them. Similar story with storage, D7000 and D600 both have dual SD card slots but the D800 gets SD+compact flash. Why? I get that they want to tailor to pros who may be invested in CF cards but give me a break. If you can buy a $3000 body you can likely but a couple of extra cards. With the resolution of the D800 most people will need new (and much bigger) cards anyway. It should have been dual CF, now I need to buy and carry two types of media.


One thing that is clear is that Nikon intentionally crippled the D600 with the 1/200 sync speed and 1/4000 max shutter speed. These may not be problems for many shooters, but for anyone serious about strobes or fast primes lenses in bright light will run into problems. Pros will likely skip the D600, even as a backup, for these reasons. Good for Nikon, bad for us.


In the end, the D600 fits very well into Nikon's new FX camera lineup. Unlike the previous lineup which had the D700, D3S, and D3X the new lineup of the D600, D800, and D4 offers better pricing for most users and a better distinction between the cameras in the lineup. I'm looking forward to seeing image samples from the D600 once they start getting into users hands.

Also see: Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D: an entry level full frame comparison

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

D800 Autofocus Repair Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here:[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning. After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance. My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning. I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired. I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"]Update February 9, 2013: Got my camera back from Nikon, still waiting for my 24-70 lens. Some testing with the 50mm f/1.8G using FocusTune is not looking promising :([/box]

I made a previous post about the issues my Nikon D800 had with phase detect autofocus, my test charts clearly showed a problem with the left side AF sensors.  I dropped off my camera at Nikon and it came back with the following info.



Service Repair Rank B2








So it looks like Nikon actually did make a fix, though I have heard some people had cameras returned with B1 service repair but I'm not sure how they differ.  Today I decided to do some testing on the 'fixed' camera to see if it was any better.  Same test procedure as before, same Siemens Star test chart.  I only tested the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens as that more obviously showed the problems before.   Below you can see the results for the lens at 24mm, ISO 100.  Top row is Live View manual focus (reference), next is Live View autofocus (to test contrast detect AF), then two rows viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus tests.  The VF AF 1 is racking focus to the closest setting before letting autofocus take over, VF AF 2 was a rack to infinity.

Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm


Disregard the differences in white balance, the right test chart was closer to a different set of lights. Focus should not be affected overall, and shows relatively consistent operation left, center, and right.


I repeated the test at 70mm but this time didn't test Live View autofocus. Here are the results.
Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm


As before focus looks to be consistent, if not perfect, between the three tested points.


Finally, putting together my previous test charts with the updated tests shot today. Top row is Live View manual for reference, next row is the viewfinder autofocus tests before the fix and third row are the tests after the fix. This should clearly show that the fix worked. One thing to note is that the autofocus, even after the fix, is not in perfect focus however I hope that autofocus fine tune can fix that.
Nikon D800 Pre VS Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Contrast and Phase Detect Autofocus Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here:[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning.  After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance.  My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning.  I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired.  I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update August 23, 2012: I finally had a chance to do some critical tests of my fixed Nikon D800. I can say that Nikon did fix the problem (still to be tested), I have posted updated test charts here.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 30, 2012: Picked up my D800 in Richmond today. I did some 'off the cuff' testing, hand held without a test chart. It seems to be fixed though I won't know for sure until I set up a proper test procedure again. I won't have time to do that until next week but will test again and post my results.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 20, 2012: Nikon has confirmed that the camera arrived in Toronto. They provided a service order number and a link to check the status, unfortunately the page is 'under construction'.  I hope that means it is just offline for a fix as I haven't visited the page before.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 18, 2012: I dropped off my D800 at the Nikon repair center in Vancouver (Richmond) along with my test results. They said that the high end bodies get shipped to Toronto, and I'll be without the camera for two to three weeks. Not fun, but worth it if they can fix the issue. If it comes back the same or worse I won't be too happy about it.[/box]

After reading several posts about the 'left autofocus point' problems of the Nikon D800, I decided to test my own camera to see if it needed repair.  Thom Hogan outlined a test method in his July 16, 2012 post and I decided to follow that method to test my camera, with a change.  Initially, I developed a test target as per Thom's suggestion but it led to problems so I did a second round of testing with the classic Siemens star.

Some notes about the camera and test

  • I have a camera purchased in Canada, it was very early in the release cycle so call it an 'early run' camera.
  • I used two lenses for the test, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8.
  • I have not made any changes to auto focus fine tune.
  • I used a Really Right Stuff TVC-33 carbon fiber tripod and BH-55 ball head to hold the camera.
  • All exposures shot in RAW, converted to jpg to display here but no sharpening, lens correction, etc. was added.  I only changed white balance and exposure to more easily compare things.  I also cropped to make comparison easier.  Everything managed with Adobe Lightroom 4.
  • The lenses did not have any filters installed.
  • Camera had distortion control turned off.
  • Shot at the widest aperture (f/1.8 for the 50mm and f/2.8 for the 24-70) and ISO 100.  The 24-70mm was shot at 24mm.
  • Camera was leveled using the built in leveling tool and a three-way hot shoe level.
  • The camera (sensor plane) was about 6.5' from the wall.
The notations used may be confusing, but work for me to keep track of what I'm shooting.  I used Live View to manually focus and autofocus.
LV M - L : This means Live View, manual focus, left sensor.
LV AF - C : Live View, autofocus, center
VF AF - R : viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus, right sensor.
For each lens, there are 9 images.
LV M (L/C/R)
I repeated the viewfinder AF tests several times, posted two samples.
I hope that makes sense.   Below are the results of the testing.

Test Results - 50mm f/1.8G


Top row is Live View manual focus, second row is Live View AF, and last two rows are viewfinder phase detect AF.  The 50mm does show less detail in the left AF sensor.  Note, bigger versions of these test images are below, this is just a summary.

Nikon D800 50mm f/1.8 AF test

Test Results - 24mm f/2.8G


The 24mm lens shows a much more severe left AF issue.

Nikon D800 24-70mm f/2.8 AF test

This is a tedious exercise to both shoot and post.  I did it twice as my first test chart didn't yield useful results.  My D800 does suffer from the left autofocus problem when using phase detect autofocus with the two lenses I tested.  It will need to go to Nikon to get repaired.

Here is my test setup, in case anyone is curious.





Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup


Here are the full test patterns and should be in the same order shown above.

If you want to download the test chart I used, you can do so here.
Siemens Star Focus Test Chart

iPhone 4S shot of D90 and D800 WB adjustment to paper

D800 LCD Green Colour Cast Test

There have been numerous reports of a slight colour cast to the D800 rear LCD screen. The colour does not seem to affect the files but can create some issues when shooting. I'm not really sure how to test this, but I attempted to set up my D800 to take a shot of a white piece of paper. I tried comparing the LCD to my D90 screen, and took a shot with my iPhone of the two LCD screens side by side. Maybe this will be useful to some.

First, a shot with the iphone unadjusted for white balance showing the D90 LCD screen (left) and the D800. Both in live view mode, not displaying a captured frame. They look different but I'm not really sure if the D90 is cooler than expected or the D800 is warmer.
iPhone 4S shot of D90 and D800 no WB adjustment

Next, I used the custom WB adjustment in Lightroom 4 and selected the white of the paper as the target neutral.
iPhone 4S shot of D90 and D800 WB adjustment to paper

Finally, a shot taken with the D90 showing the paper and LCD screen of the D800. White balance adjusted in Lightroom using the paper as target neutral.
D90 shot of D800 LCD screen to test for hue

To my eyes, there doesn't seem to be an objectionable colour cast to the D800 LCD. I'm not sure if this is common to all D800 models or only some (early run?). I could do more testing, but not sure how or what else to look at. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Jammie: Nikon D800 @ ISO 3200

Nikon D800 High ISO Test

This isn't meant to be a critical test, it was just a shot I tried with my new D800. I shot hand held in poor light to see how the camera would do. Compared to my Nikon D90, where the image started to fall apart at ISO 800, the D800 is still going strong at ISO 3200.

Nikon D800
Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR
Aperture: f/4
Shutter: 1/80"
ISO 3200
High ISO noise reduction: normal

Processed from 14-bit lossless compressed raw in Lightroom 4, than ran through Noiseware to clean it up a bit. Overall, very happy with the image, completely usable shot of my dog, Jammie. The room was quite dark, Lightroom brought back the shadows and exposure, there is lots of dynamic range available to play with. (Click for bigger version).

Jammie: Nikon D800 @ ISO 3200

D800 Test Image - flowers

My first images with the Nikon D800

My D800 finally arrived, charged the batteries and headed out with my dogs the next morning. Resisted the urge to photography my keyboard, floor, ceiling, and anything else boring just to play with it. Tried to make the first frame count!

I want to mention that I'm not that happy with the grip of the D800. I have big hands, XL gloves, and it seems small to me. I may just need to get used to it, but it is smaller than I expected.  It's not comfortable in the hands, especially with a bigger lens on the body.  I may have to buy the grip, which is not something I wanted as I like the size of the body as it is.   I'm going to shoot it without the grip for a while, see if I get used to it.

Some people have posted on various forums that their D800 came with a few hundred shutter actuations.  I checked the shutter count on my first frame, it was showing "2". Maybe they do a test shot at the factory?

This is the first frame from my camera.  I didn't set all of the settings I should have, but it is what it is.  Shot using the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, auto ISO, aperture priority mode.  Processed from 14-bit lossless compressed raw in lightroom. Not the best, but I'm happy with things so far.  My dog Cedric, who is always an unwilling participant since there are more interesting things to do at the beach than sit around.  And yes, I can see my reflection in his eye.

First photo taken with my Nikon D800, my dog Cedric

Any my second shot, same settings.  This time of my dog Jammie.

Second photo taken with my Nikon D800, my dog Jammie

Flower shots below are shot on a sturdy tripod, Nikkor 105 f/2.8 VR, 2 second timer, 3 second exposure delay, live view focus. Processed from 14-bit lossless compressed raw in lightroom.  Better, happy with the first samples as I know they will get better from here.

D800 Test Image - Apple blossom

D800 Test Image - flowers

The full resolution jpeg (18MB) can be seen here.  The detail captured by the camera is amazing.

Nikon D800 D800E side by side

Why I chose the Nikon D800 over the D800E

I have been waiting for an update to the Nikon D700 for the better part of a year.  During that time, I have sold some DX lenses and bought FX lenses in preparation.  The delays were many and I almost picked up a D700 on several occasions and even looked around for a used D3s.  I wasn't in a hurry and still happy with the images my trusty D90 was producing.   In the end, the wait was worth it as the D800 looks like a fantastic camera.  I think the official specification surprised a lot of people.  36 megapixels, the fancy autofocus and metering from the D4, top notch video, and two models to choose from.  I did a rundown of the features I like and don't like in a previous post, suffice it to say it's mostly good.

Nikon D800 Angle 2

The latest camera announcement from Nikon produced two new bodies, the D800 and D800E.  For the first time ever, Nikon has produced a digital SLR camera without an optical lowpass filter, also known as an anti-aliasing (AA) filter or blur filter.  This is far from the first camera to ship without the filter though.  The Leica M8 and M9 (possibly others) don't have it, nor do many of the medium format bodies.  The two-body strategy has created some turmoil on the various internet forums and blogs as people are confused about which model to buy.  I was also confused, and flipped back and forth on which model to invest in until I settled on the D800 (with includes the filter).  I'll outline some of my reasons for the choice, maybe it will help someone else make their decision easier.

First, let me say that I'm an amateur photographer currently shooting a D90.  I have enjoyed the hobby for a number of years and plan to continue learning to improve my photography.  I have never shot a camera without the AA filter so this announcement threw me for a loop. My initial reaction was to jump on the D800E.  Everyone was saying how much better it will be, sharper, more contrast, etc.  I got caught up in the "sharper is better" mentality and put a deposit on a D800E.  I often shoot in RAW and before exporting to jpeg I always apply some sharpening (if you shoot jpg the camera does some sharpening for you), so I thought that I wouldn't have to do that if the camera was capturing a sharper image to begin with.  I also thought, by proxy, that the D800 would be soft and not give me the level of detail I wanted.  Those moiré issues won't bug me as I shoot landscapes and nature. In the end, a lot of assumptions and not much critical thinking and looking at how I will use the camera.  The gadget geek in me wanted the D800E, but in the end the more practical me won the argument.

Below are the reasons I have decided to get the plain ol' D800 but before I get there I would like to point out that the D800E still has some type of filter, but the effects cancel each other out.  If you are producing both types of bodies, this is likely necessary to maintain the integrity of the optical path to the sensor.  In the image below, you can see that the light gets split but then re-aligned in the D800E, unlike the D800 where it is split twice.  One can assume that this is not the same as removing the filter completely, but doing so would likely mean a slight re-design to the body which makes no sense from a mass production point of view.


An objective look at the D800

Suppose there was no D800E, we would all be saying how great the image quality (IQ) is on the D800 and comparing it to other models on the market.  We would be thrilled with the increased resolution and level of detail this camera will provide.  Everyone who was planning to get the D800 would by happy.  Nikon threw a wrench in the works with the D800E.  I think their plan was to provide a camera that appeals to the medium format (MF) crowd.  The high resolution and lack of AA filter certainly has a draw for that crowd.  The D800 is a much smaller package compared to the MF offerings and would be considered fast by comparison.  Many of the MF shooters are working with one frame per second, so 4?  WOW.

The availability of the D800E does not make the D800 worse.  It will not make softer images or produce results that the vast majority of shooters would not be thrilled with.  The sheer resolution of the sensor will make images that were not possible with previous Nikon bodies (save for maybe the D3x).

All other Nikon DSLR bodies have an AA filter

I have seen a lot of stunning images shot with Nikon cameras in the past and never thought that things looked bad or were lacking detail.  Images shot with a D3s, D700, and even DX cameras are all shot with the AA filter in front of the sensor.  No one was complaining that the AA filter is destroying quality then, and shouldn't now.  Even the new flagship D4 has an AA filter, and I'm sure that will produce fantastic results.

Depth of field

When you are shooting with a fast lens wide open (low f-stop), the plane of focus is not very big.  Depending on your distance to the subject, it may be just a sliver.  The sharpness advantage of the D800E is only in the plane of focus.  The areas that are naturally blurred by the lens are not sharp anyway, so the lack of the AA filter does not come into play.  In fact, it would be interesting to see if the lack of an AA filter has any effect on bokeh.

You can increase the depth of field (DoF) by stopping down your lens, though this is not an option for every shot from an artistic point of view.  If you do stop down the lens, the plane of focus is wider and the sharpness advantage will increase over the D800, however there is a limit to this.  Thom Hogan suggests that f/8 is the aperture where things start to get less sharp due to diffraction.  Beyond f/8, diffraction actually reduces the effective resolution and the more you stop down the greater the effect of diffraction.  Both models are affected by this, but I speculate that the gap in sharpness is closed between the models as you stop down beyond f/8.   I have no scientific basis for this, but it makes sense in my head.  We need real-world testing to prove or disprove this.

Look at the D7000

The pixel density of the D7000 is very similar to that in the D800.  The D7000 has the AA filter, and produces the best images I have ever seen from a DX camera.  They are sharp and have a lot of dynamic range and contrast.  The D800 has newer sensor technology, a larger sensor area, and slightly bigger pixels so the results will be even better.

I spend enough time in post production already

When shooting in RAW, processing your images is just part of the workflow.  I already spend plenty of time preparing my RAW files for export and I don't want to spend even more trying to fix moiré problems in my images.  They may not crop up all the time, but when they do you will be forced to spend time trying to get rid of it.  I have watched several videos online and read many tutorials on the removal of moiré and it isn't easy.  It also affects the quality of the resulting image, possibly more than shooting with an AA filter in the first place.  Capture NX2 is supposed to have tools to help, as is Adobe Lightroom 4, but they will not be perfect.  I have tried the tools in LR4 Beta and they help with color shifts but don't do a good job of removing the strange patterns that are introduced.

The D800 is going to be my only DSLR, I most of often shoot landscapes, architecture, and nature.  Of those, architecture is the most problematic because of the repeating patterns but moiré can certainly come up anywhere.   Inevitably, I will also be shooting pets, friends, family, vacations, and more.  I want the camera to perform well in all situations and don't want to risk the color shift and banding effects that shooting without an AA can introduce.


The D800 introduces some fantastic video features that I'm eager to try out.  My D90 has video capability, but it is pathetic.  The D800 is likely going to be so good that I may actually try shooting video from time to time.   I would have a hard enough time removing artifacts from still images but wouldn't even know where to begin to remove them from a video clip.  I'm sure if I had access to Pixar's systems and software it would be possible, but I'm a video newbie and prefer to avoid problems than try to fix them after the fact.

Note: I'm not 100% sure that the moiré issues affect the video output, but given what I have read they will.  If so, the D800E may not be a good camera for video capture.

What is the real difference?

I have seen a few samples of the D800 and D800E at 100% resolution and there are visible differences between them.  Of course, these are Nikon samples and I have yet to see the RAW files from the two bodies showing the same scene, same lens, shot at the same time.  It is difficult to compare what the real-world performance will be once these are in photographers hands.  Certainly, the difference will not be dramatic as some expect it to be.

The final output of the image is also a factor.  If you take 36 megapixel images form either body and shrink it down to a 800x600 jpeg and put it in your blog it's unlikely you would see any difference.  The jpeg compression alone would likely kill any of the minor details captured with the D800E.  If you print, I suspect the difference will be minimal or invisible at 4x6, 5x7, ... ?  I honestly don't know how big you will need to print an image before differences will be visible.

On screen, when viewing the entire image, the difference will be invisible or subtle.  Pixel peepers who view things at 100% on 30" screens will see the difference, most others will not.

Lens selection is still key

A better lens will make a MUCH bigger difference to overall  image quality than removing the AA filter.  The D800 will resolve more detail than any other body in the lineup, combined with a quality lens the results will be stunning.  Anyone thinking they can use a lesser lens on a D800E will quickly learn that the lens quality is the difference maker.


Having the extra sharpness of the D800E means nothing if your technique is not able to make use of it.  To truly extract that last bit of performance from the E model you need to know what you are doing.  If your tripod is not solid even the slightest breeze may soften the results.  Understanding of diffraction effects, hand holding steadiness, and your subject are all going to play a part in the final image sharpness.  The less you get right, the less difference you will see from a D800.


I was eager to get the D800E but it's not the best camera for my shooting needs.  I will rarely print massive photos, I want to try video, and I will likely shoot a variety of subjects.  Also, the 'if it's good enough for a D4 it is good enough for my D800' argument is valid.  I'm not planning to test lenses for a living or spend hours shooting test charts and looking at my images at 100%.  I want to shoot and have fun, the D800 will let me do that better than a D800E.  The fact that I get it three weeks sooner and spend $300 less is just icing on the cake.

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit

Nikon D800 High ISO Sample Images

The Nikon D800 and sister model the D800E were announced to much fanfare.  It looks like a winner but like all gadgets it is not perfect.  One of the first thing people ask is if it's as good as the D700 when shooting at high ISO.  The rule of thumb is that as pixel density increases, and thus physical pixel size decreases, the noise in an image will increase.  There is more to this, but as a general rule that holds true.  The 12mp sensors in the D700, D3, and D3s have shown that shooting in available light at high ISO values is possible and can produce stunning results.

Here are the pixel sizes for several of Nikon's cameras:

D700: 8.45µm

D3s: 8.45µm

D3x: 5.94µm

D7000: 4.78 µm

D4: 7.3µm

D800: 4.88µm

As you can see, the D800 pixels are significantly smaller than a D3s and D4 and about the same size as the D7000.  However, the physical sensor size is the same among all the FX cameras so the number of photons hitting the sensor is also the same.  Noise performance when viewing images at 100% will be better on a D700 than a D800, however to make the test fair you need to downsample (resize) the image to the same resolution.  When you do that, quality improves and noise is reduced.  To be objective, you need to shoot the D700 and D800 side by side, in the same light at the same time.  However, the image samples below do show that the D800 will be a capable performer, likely as good or better than the D700.

The images below are form  Their site was painfully slow when viewing the images and I wanted to post some samples that were processed a bit to show the difference.  First, the images as they came from the camera.  All jpeg, no post production (according to the source), shot with the 50mm f/1.8G lens.  They have been resized to 1920x1281 to view online (click to view at that size).

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 3200, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 3200, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G


At the small sizes viewed on the web, all of these images can be considered acceptable.  The samples up to ISO 6400 are all quite good and even the ISO 25,600 is usable.  At 100% resolution though problems are visible.

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, CROP


ISO 800, not bad actually.  25,600, ouch.  However, if we do some post processing to clean things up the situation does get better.

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP


And at ISO 6400 it still holds up well.

Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit

Before and after editing.  Note that I just did some quick adjustments in Lightroom 4 and used Noiseware to clean up the noise.  Overall, the result is quite promising.

Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP


Even the ISO 25,600 can be cleaned up.  While a stretch to say this is 'good', it may be useful for a blog or facebook.

Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP

I'm not sure if the technique used to capture the image was ideal and I'm sure you can do even better if you have the RAW files (.NEF) so I'm hopeful that this will be a very good camera in low light.

D800 Logo

Nikon D800 & D800E: The Good and the Bad

The D800 and D800E are now official and all the rumor and speculation about specs can end. There seems to be new debate about whether 36MP is too many, if the E model (without the optical low-pass, anti-alias filter) makes any sense, and if the D4 is worth the money now that this camera is out. In short: no, yes, and yes. I may elaborate later but for now that is sufficient. If anyone cares, I think the D800 is going to be an excellent camera and I have already put a deposit on mine.

I wouldn't be buying something I don' t think is a good buy.  The D800 isn't perfect, but it certainly is an upgrade over my current D90 and should serve me well for years to come.  I know that I enjoy this hobby, and I believe I can take advantage of the new features.  So below, some things I like about the new body and some things I don't.

The Good


"Nikon Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, fine-tuning, 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors; f/8 supported by 11 central sensors)."  This is the same system the D4 uses, which means it's going to be amazing.  Nikon did us all a favor and gave us it's best focusing system to date.  If you are into shooting wildlife at a distance, you can now use the long f/4 lenses with a 2x teleconverter and still have autofocus at an effective f/8.  Further, you can use the DX mode of the D800 to get an extra 50% reach and still have 15.4MP images to work with.  Not bad.  Add face detection and 3D-tracking and this will be a lot of fun to shoot with.


Like the autofocus system, Nikon gives us the new 91,000-pixel RGB sensor for metering straight from the D4.  Includes scene detection and prioritization of exposure for faces.  A big jump from previous models, the D700/D3x had a 1,005 pixel sensor.


The D700 had no video features, and my D90 (the first DSLR to get video) was pathetic.  Nikon had no answer to Canon's stellar offering, the 5D Mark II.  I don't think they expected so many people to start using DSLR cameras for shooting video.  Even Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon for feature films.  Nikon is late to the game, but has thrown down big contenders in the D4 and D800.  The video capabilities are now the best in the game for DSLR cameras, but I suspect Canon may have something to say about that with the release of the 5D Mark III (if and when it happens).  I haven't shot much video, but with the capability at my disposal I may give it a shot.

100% Viewfinder Coverage

A full-frame camera with 100% viewfinder coverage paired with a fast lens (f/2.8 or better) is a joy to use.  I haven't owned such a camera, but have peered through the viewfinder of several.  Once you see it, hard to go back.

Pixels, Pixels, and more Pixels

36.8 million of them to be exact (36.3 effective).  Nikon's strategy is really to follow Canon's lead, and that is to provide a clear separation between the compact full-frame bodies and the large, fast, and expensive flagship models.  The D700 ate up sales of the D3 and likely the D3s as they were all 12MP and produced similar results.  The D3s is king of high iso shooting, but cost a pretty penny compared to the also capable D700.  Canon went a different route, and provided an high resolution (21MP) 5D Mark II with great video and it seems to have worked out well for them.  Now, Nikon has the D4 which is a high speed, high ISO, pro body and the D800 which will be the high resolution, slower and more affordable body.  I think the 36MP resolution surprised many, including me.  The resolution certainly opens up a lot of possibilities.

Dedicated Bracket Button

I like to shoot HDR often, so this is a handy addition.

Upgraded LCD

Same LCD as the D4, with ambient light control.  Nothing earth shattering here, but several incremental improvements throughout the body make for a better overall user experience.

DX Mode

Not new, but now useful.  Shooting in DX mode on a D700 resulted in 5.1MP files.  Not what I would call stellar.  It may work in a pinch, but I doubt it was used much.  On the D800, resolution in DX mode is 15.3MP which is very close to the resolution of the fantastic D7000.   If needed, you could use DX lenses.  If you need more reach, use DX mode and get the 1.5x equivalent boost in focal length.  Not something I will use all the time, but nice to have and very useful when used.


The Bad

Four Frames Per Second

I realize you are shooting 36MP images and that is a lot of data, but it just *feels* slow for a brand new DSLR these days.  The D800 and D4 share the same Expeed3 processor, and if the D4 can churn out 11fps at 16mp the D800 should be able to do 5.  That is assuming there is no headroom in the process.  5fps would be good, especially if we had a 7 or 8fps DX mode.  We are stuck with 4, oh well.

No illuminated buttons

I guess we can't have all the goodies of the D4, and keeping this out helps Nikon keep the costs down.  Would have been nice, but I can live without it.

Insanely Priced Grip

The grip is optional, so you don't need to buy this.  However, Nikon priced this so high it is a hard pill to swallow. If you want faster frame rates, pony up. Note: the FX column is also for shooting in the 5:4 crop mode. Costs based on pricing from B&H in February 2012 and shown in USD.


FX fps

1.2X fps

1.5X (DX) fps

EN-EL15 battery $0 4 5 5
MB-D12 grip & EN-EL15 battery $449.95 4 5 5
MB-D12 grip & EN-EL18 (D4) battery $999.80 4 5 6
MB-D12 grip with AA batteries $449.95 + 4 5 6
AC adapter $129.24 4 5 6

MB-D12 D800/D800E grip: $449.95
MS-D12 AA holder: $47.95
EP-5B Power Supply Connector: $49.95
EH-5B AC Adapter: $79.29
EN-EL18 (D4) battery: $169.95
MH-26 Dual Battery Charger: $349.95
BL-5 Battery chamber cover: $29.95

So let me get this straight Nikon, if I want to get the 6 frames per second and not use an AC adapter (duh) or AA batteries I need to use the battery from the D4 in the grip. In order to do that, I need to buy the grip, en-el18 battery, battery cover, and battery charger. Grand total $1000 USD. Are you kidding me? This is just a cash grab, you can count me out.


Yes, this is also listed in the good section.  I'm not sure I'll use it, but I'm paying for it regardless.  Does video belong in a DSLR? I don't know, but it looks like it's here to stay.  I don't know anything about video, shooting it, editing it, etc.  Might be a big waste of time for me.  TBD.

Pixels, lots of them

Definitely a plus, I'm not really complaining but it's worth mentioning that you will certainly need to buy some big storage cards, probably 64GB or better.  You will also need a ton of storage and backup space on your computer and a fast system to deal with the giant files this body will produce.  75MB uncompressed RAW files will eat up memory and put a strain on any older CPU.  The upgrade cost of the D800 goes well beyond the cost of the body.

Nikon D800 Skeleton

D800 Banner

My New Camera, the Nikon D800E

UPDATE Feb 14, 2012: I'm no longer getting the D800E but the regular D800.  I have outlined the reasons for doing so in a different post.  I'm sure both models will produce great images, if you have any thoughts about one model or the other feel free to leave a message in the comments.

I have been waiting impatiently for a new, affordable, full-frame camera from Nikon for over a year.  I have been shooting with a Nikon D90 and it's a capable camera but I knew I wanted to make the jump to FX.  Over the last few years, my lens selections have definitely been with a future FX body in mind.  I could have bought the D700, which is certainly a capable camera but the next model was 'just around the corner'.   From what I have read, the new D800 was to be released in the first half of 2011, but mother nature doesn't always cooperate with corporate schedules.  First, the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan disrupted the Nikon plant in Sendai.  The plant makes the high end bodies and lenses and that put a quick end to any chance of a D800 release.  Nikon was well underway with repairs when the heavy flooding in Thailand hit.  Nikon's plant there was underwater, which stopped production of their very popular D7000 among other bodies and lenses.

Two major disasters would cripple any company, and Nikon did their best to keep production up and repair the damage.  Schedules were delayed, products in short supply, but Nikon seems to have handled the situation very well and pulled out of the mess and started 2012 off very strong.  First, they released their flagship D4, a camera packed with the latest technology from Nikon.  It has received a great welcome, and should be a good performer when it starts shipping in late February or early March.  Second, they finally announced their compact full-frame model, the D800.  They surprised many with two variations of the same camera: with anti-alias filter (D800) and, for the first time from Nikon, one without the filter (D800E).  I have put a deposit on a D800E and hope to have my hands on one in April.  It will be a long wait.

I won't go into the specifications of the D800, there are plenty of good links and preview articles out there (Nikon D800 pagedpreview, Rob Galbraith).  I'm excited by the new technology in the camera, 36mp sensor, new autofocus and metering system (same as the D4), top notch video features, and much more.  I plan to shoot with this camera for the next few years and continue to learn about this great hobby.

Once I get the thing in my hands, I'll post some sample images and an update.

Camera Size has the D800 in the database now, see how it compares to the D90 (my current camera), D300S, and D4.

Nikon D800 Front

Nikon D800 Angle 1

Nikon D800 Angle 2

Nikon D800 Back

Nikon D800 Top

Nikon D800 With Grip

Nikon D4 Zoom

Nikon D4: The New And Cool Stuff

I wrote a short post previously on how the D4 stacks up against it's closest competition (Nikon D3s and Canon 1D X). It covers at the features photographers will look at most often when comparing bodies, things like sensor resolution, frame rates, buffer size, and low light performance. In this artile, I'll go over some of the new things Nikon threw in there that make the body interesting.

Nikon D4 guts

Video capability

The D4 can record 1080p Full HD video at 30/25 or 24p in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format.  Full HD video is available in three formats: FX-based, DX-based (1.5x) or 1,920 x 1,080 (2.7x) crop movie format. It can also export its uncompressed video footage via HDMI.

Nikon was the first company to add video to a DSLR in the D90.  Having used a D90 extensively, I can tell you that the video feature is weak and almost useless.  Canon nailed a home run with the 5D Mark II, and even Hollywood caught on and started using the camera in some scenes.  The 5DII sold well, Nikon missed the boat and lost customers.  The D4 addresses all of the previous problems and, for now, puts Nikon at the top of the DSLR video heap.  It's not perfect but it's a video monster that will please almost everyone.

For those of you that think video doesn't belong in a still camera... get over it.  Video is here to stay and almost everything with a lens these days can take stills and video.  People want it so the companies are going to include it.  I don't think it affects the still photo capability of the camera, the D4 is looking like Nikon's best still camera to date.  The only drawback is likely a higher price, but I guess that is progress for you.

Here is a sample video shot with a D4. Looks good, even compressed for the web (available in 1080p)

Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX AF sensor module

51 AF points, with all 51 (15 cross type) points of the D4 are usable with every AF NIKKOR lens of f/5.6 or faster. AF detection is fast and accurate down to an impressive -2 EV. 15 cross-type sensors in the central area and 11 focus points compatible with f/8.

The D4 keeps the same number of AF points as the D3s but just makes everything better.  One of the big things here is the ability to use lenses with minimum f-stop of f/8.  You find this when using some of the big telephoto lenses (such as the 200-400 f/4) with a 2x teleconverter.  You can now have a 400-800 f/8 lens that will autofocus for a change.  No other Nikon body will do this, so you were forced to use fast telephoto lenses like the 400mm f/2.8 or go without auto focus.  This should be good for sports or wildlife shooters that commonly use these lenses.

Exposure Meter and AF Improvement

The D4 is fit with a 91,000 pixel RGB sensor for metering. This is a massive improvement over the 1,005 pixel sensor in the D3s. Because of the increased resolution, the D4 now offers face detection autofocus and can account for up to 16 human faces in the frame even when using the optical view finder. Previously, face detection was only available in live view because you were using the entire sensor and contrast detection autofocus.

The D4 also adds scene detection. The 3D Color Matrix Metering III metering mode compares metered scenes to a large in-camera database of scene types, before determining exposure variables. To me, this seems like a gimmick and reminds me of Clippy from the old MS Office programs: "It looks like you are trying to compose a sunset shot, let me bollocks that up for you". On a camera targeted at professional shooters, do you need this?

Remote Operation

Remote viewing and operating of the camera for stills and video from your laptop/iPad/iPhone in real time. This is built into the camera, and just damn cool. No extra software needed, but you do need the wireless adapter (WT-5A) which isn't cheap at almost $900 US. Once it's up and running though, you can see the live view image, adjust most camera controls, trigger exposures remotely and view the captured image. This means you can mount the camera somewhere where it may not be easy or safe to be during an event to capture images. In other settings, clients can immediately see captured images on a big screen as you are shooting. I'm sure there will be a lot of creative uses for this, a nice feature.

Watch the video of the ipad control in action.

Improved exposure bracketing

The camera will allow 3, 5, 7, or 9 exposures in either 1/3, 2/3, or 1 full stop (plus 2 stops and 3 stops) The possible dynamic range capture for very difficult HDR situations has been massively increased! The D4 also features a quick HDR feature that makes an in camera file based on a overexposed and normal frame. I don't think the in camera HDR feature will be that useful, but the extra bracketing options is going to be great for HDR shooters.

A few minor items

Illuminated buttons, a very nice addition when you are shooting in low light (which is certainly where this camera will get used).

Time lapse movie creator will compile multiple exposures (based on your settings) into an HD movie but it does not retain the images so may not be useful for most.

Improved rear LCD.  3.2" 921,000 dot with expanded color gamut and a sensor to detect ambient light levels to automatically adjust brightness and saturation.


Nikon D4 with body

Nikon D4 High ISO Sample Images

Mircea Bezergheanu has been posting some sample images from the Nikon D4. These are the first images I have seen that are not from Nikon or part of the Nikon advertising campaign.

I'm not sure what type of post processing is involved, however the images do look great even up to ISO 12,800. I think some post processing would make them look even better.

Until we get side by side comparisons of the D4 and the D3S, shooting the same subject in the same light, it will be tough to compare the two bodies directly. Right now though, the D4 is certainly looking good.

View the images on Mircea's Smugmug page.