The Nikon D800 - First Impressions

Stanford Memorial Church at 36.3 megapixels

The Stanford Memorial Church was the location of the very first image I published on this blog!

For a look at the outside of the church under an eclipsed solstice moon, click here..

By this point, the internet is fairly full of Nikon D800 reviews. Photographers from around the world have largely confirmed that this camrea is a modern marvel. It boasts a 36.3-megapixel sensor and a bevy of professional video features to make even the most jaded photog drool in pure, unadulterated gear-lust.

Being a Nikon D700 shooter, I was curious if the rather large sum of money with which I parted would be sorely missed after shooting with the new beast. Rather than provide a point by point review, I thought I would stretch the sensor's legs a bit and simply share the resulting frames.

I am happy to report that I am one happy customer. Not only does this camera slake the thirst of an admitted resolution junkie, but as we shall see in a moment, it's high-ISO capabilities are out-of-the-park awesome. Rest assured, this camera is indeed in a class of its own.

A friend and I headed into the ruddy, amber confines of the Stanford Memorial Church at noon a few days ago to see what we could see.

I picked the church not only because it is close enough for me to sneak out and photograph on a quick lunch break, but also because it presents a dynamic range challenge that few other interiors can boast. There are a few hanging lanterns that cast a paltry yellow glow and a central, circular skylight that beams the gigalumens of the noon sun directly onto the floor. Consider also that the stations painted on the walls of the recessed porticos are in deep shadow and you have a dynamic range well above 14 stops.

What you see below are one exposure images from the D800, processed exclusively in Adobe Lightroom 4. The combination of this sensor and that software are nothing short of revolutionary.

The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800

High ISO performance

Okay, so we all knew the resolution and dynamic range were going to be wonderful. I had also heard rumors that the high-ISO capabilities were nothing to scoff at. This seems counter-intuitive. How can a camera boast three times the pixel count of its predecessor and still render creamy, noise-free images at high ISO?

In the dark corners and porticos of Stanford Memorial, I found some textures and musical instruments on which to test the sensor at ISO 3200, 6400, etc.

I hand held all of these images using Live View to focus. Almost without exception they were shot at 14mm f/2.8, ISO 6400.

Almost without exception they were devoid of noticeable noise at screen resolution. My jaw hit the stone floor.

Believe the hype.

The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800
The Stanford Memorial Church - First Impressions of the Nikon D800