Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Joy of Shooting a D800

Lost Memories 
D800, Nikkor 105/2.5 AI-S

In thinking about the image in the previous post, I was reminded about how enjoyable the D800 was to shoot when I wasn't fighting the focus shift issues I had with the Zeiss 85 Planar.

The D800 is simply a joy to shoot. The ergonomics are nearly perfect (only thing I'd change is a deeper grip), the control layout is dead-on, the viewfinder is really nice aside from needing a bit more tooth in the focus screen for good manual focus, the responsiveness is amazing, especially after coming from mirrorless, the D800 is just on, instantly. AF is very good, the IQ is amazing, producing the best RAW files of any camera I've ever owned.

The downsides really are that manual focus is simply better in an EVF and the body is big & heavy. Oh, and the Live View experience kinda sucks by current standards. No peaking, magnification is a bit flaky and it's basically useless handheld because of the shutter release delay and fixed LCD.

Recently I was made an offer I couldn't refuse on a notionally high mileage D800 (60k on the shutter, which is considered high, but isn't that high when you consider the official design lifetime is 200k). So I took it, and even had a cheap Canon telezoom thrown in for free to use on the A7II, specifically Canon's surprisingly not awful 75-300 f4-5.6 USM III.

So, after a couple weeks with the D800 again, where am I?

I'm clearly in better physical shape than 2 years ago, because carrying the D800 is not causing me some of the shoulder issues it did last time. Some of that is simply being more careful about how I carry it (less in the hand, more in the bag/on the strap), I have right arm issues and I need to be careful about it or I'll end up not shooting anything due to injuries.

The IQ and shooting experience is simply better than the A7II. There's two aspects to this really. The first is the grip, the D800's grip is further from the mount, so my fingers don't get squished by the lens/adapter (my Fotodiox EF adapter is bad for this, as is the FE 28-70), that just makes the D800 more comfortable to hold. The second is button layout, the D800's is simply more natural. As to the IQ, well aside from the range above ISO 6400, the D800's sensor is better and I like Nikon colour better. At high ISO the A7II comes into its own.

The other aspect is that the quality of the A7II's EVF and LCD is pretty low compared to similar cost bodies. It's just not on par with the Olympus or Fuji bodies I've also had over the last year. Don't get me wrong, it's not awful at all, in fact it's acceptably good, but an X-T1 or E-M5II's EVF and LCD are a step above, as is the D800's LCD.

Where does that leave me for now? I'll continue to concentrate on F mount lenses, I'm not going to get any native glass for FE. I'll adapt to the A7II for now and continue to use it as a carry camera (it remains a LOT lighter than the D800, even with an adapter in the mix). But I could really be tempted by another Fuji in the everyday carry space, especially with the XC35 that was just announced.

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