Popular Nikon D800 woes, problems, issues and solutions

There’s been a lot of brouhaha on the forums recently about the Nikon D800’s various ‘critical flaws’:

1. The camera stops down in live view, so you can’t see anything!

2. You can’t get a sharp magnified live view image, so it’s no good for critical focus.

3. LCD has a color cast.

Let’s deal with these one by one.

1. I don’t consider full time DOF preview to be a problem, actually. Besides, to achieve critical focus accuracy, you should be focusing with the lens at maximum aperture anyway. One of the advantages of live view is that you actually get to see what minimal DOF looks like, unlike with the viewfinder where the focusing screen limits DOF to somewhere around f4.

2. The live view preview image is heavily, HEAVILY dependent on your picture settings because it provides a PREVIEW. So, set accordingly. Note that picture controls don’t affect RAW images unless you’re converting in NX; the settings are stored as a tag in the metadata. I set my picture controls to maximum sharpening to gauge whether an image is in focus or not, the rest don’t matter. (I have a separate set for video.)

Specifically, see below:

Above with standard sharpening set; below with +9 set. Note the difference, specifically with the text. This is at or slightly beyond 100% view. Problem solved.

3. The color is definitely different to the D700/D3/D3s – if I had to say, I think it renders a little warmer. In the image below, both cameras were set to the same WB.

Regardless, you should not be judging color on the camera’s LCD anyway – all images will have to be processed via a computer anyway, and frankly if you’re spending this much on a camera, why would you want to be cheap on your image processing or computer monitor. It’s like buying a Ferrari but only putting 89 octane fuel in it and wondering why the car feels sluggish.

One final word: these are very minor issues. They aren’t deal breakers, and there are workarounds for all of them. Curiously, users of medium format digital have to endure much more – but we never hear them complain about their LCDs, or lack of live view – despite paying ten times as much. Go out and shoot and stop whining. Ultimately, your skill limits the quality of your image far more than the native color temperature of your LCD ever will. MT


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  1. I have a problem with my d800. When im shooting and the subject is black it gets darker compared to d7000. But when i decrease the contrast it gets better, the problem is when i shoot to colored its fading. Can anyone help me? Pls…..

  2. I love my D800. I have only recently discovered an issue that is causing real hardship, image pixelization and sever banding. Doesn’t matter what lens I put on and this problem seems to come out of no where. Daytime, Nighttime or in-studio shooting product…..its still there!! Is anyone else having this issue and if so what was done to resole it?

    • This is the first time I’ve heard of it – at low and high ISOs? Perhaps time to send it in, I think…

      • I have not tried high ISO but for sure at 100. I have no problem sending you before and after images if you have a link I could send them to. I did get a hold of where I bought the camera and they will either send it in for me or replace it. Frustrating and two days of studio loss:/

  3. H.G. Moore says:

    Using live view on two different D800 bodies, with several telephoto lenses and 3 different types of remote releases, live view is blurry and locks up. Camera release button is better with live view but not perfect, and images are much better and remotes work fine when live view is off. This same set of lenses and releases work perfectly on my D300s. Huge tripod and Wimberly gimble head were used. Images were taken of bison in Yellowstone at many distances and live view was consistently awful. Am trying to reduce camera vibration from mirror slap by using live view. Thank you Hope I’ve got something set wrong.

  4. I noticed something interesting on my D800 and wanted a take on whether it was a real issue.
    I was checking AF accuracy on my new 16-35mm f4 by comparing focus in the viewfinder against the LCD. If I enlarge to the maximum, there is a subtle blurrriness in Liveview that I can’t seem to get rid of no matter how many times I have the camera focus or focus manually.
    If I switch the lens to MF without touching anything else the picture becomes sharp.
    If I take pictures in both situations simply switching the AF switch on the lens between Auto and Manual the resulting pictures appear equally sharp.
    I checked other lenses and they do the same thing.
    Is this a problem due to limitations in the liveview magnification or does my camera have a problem?
    I’d love to hear what others are seeing on their D800s.
    Judging critical sharpness at maximum magnification is not very effective although I didn’t try your sharpening method since I was concerned I might just be working around an issue with my camera. One step down is fine.
    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hmm, this is the first time I’ve heard of it – is the camera locking on fully or not?

      • Yes it locks on. It’s just that the picture is not critically sharp at focus with the Liveview magnification up all the way. When I switch the lens switch to manual -presto – picture is sharp on the LCD screen.

        • That’s really, really strange. Is it only the preview that’s soft, or the actual image? If it’s the actual image, I have no answer for you because I’ve honestly never encountered it before.

      • It’s only the Liveview preview that’s a little blurry when the lens is set to autofocus.
        To recreate, try this,…
        Mount your favorite AF lens to the D800 on a tripod.
        Focus on something using the camera’s AF.
        Bring Liveview to maximum magnification and touch shutter button to check focus. Observe the screen.
        Now carefully switch the lens AF switch to Manual.
        On my camera the LCD image is sharp when switched to Manual focus but slightly blurry when switched back to AF.
        Pictures taken either way are equally sharp.

      • Can I send you a picture of what I’m seeing?

    • If you enlarge to the maximum in live view, you are actually two clicks above maximum and the picture will become soft and pixelated. Nikon have done this so you can check if extreme detail is there (like moire) and maybe want to count pixels, but don’t expect it to be sharp. Sharp is two clicks down from maximum, which is the 1:1 image. Focus with this setting.

      • Yes, I thought that was obvious – it’s what I do at any rate – but you’re right, perhaps people are getting confused with the extra magnification available.

  5. Joe Briggs says:

    As a current user of 89 octane myself, can you recommend to me a good monitor to have for photography work on a Windows PC?

    • The Eizos are of course fantastic, but so is the price. I used an older Dell 30″ IPS monitor on my Sony which was particularly good; not sure what the current part number is. And if the 27″ Apple Cinema Display works on a PC via display port, then I’d consider one of those, too. Have to be honest though, I’m using a Mac now so I may not be the best person to comment.

      • Joe Briggs says:

        Thanks for the advice. Reviewers seem to agree with your recommendation of the Dell 30 inch (U3011). Seems to be the best “budget” monitor for photo/video editing. EIZO monitors do seem to be quite pricey. I’m still building up my camera bits so, I’ll pickup the Dell for now.

  6. zoodin88 says:

    Gosh, people need to get over such meaningless details and take more photographs. Don’t know why you even bother to give this more credence than it deserves with a blog post!

    • In case people wonder why I didn’t point it out in my review: short answer, it’s a non issue for me.

    • Fishnose says:

      On the contrary, your arrogant dismissal is a far bigger problem. All issues should be considered, and the OP did an excellent job of studying the ‘problems’ and coming to rational conclusions about them.

      • metsatsu says:

        I agree with Fishnose. I bought my D800 yesterday fully aware of the LCD tint issue. But because of this post, I knew that the LCD tint isn’t much of an issue which later on can be remedied under warranty. Otherwise I would have rejected the camera in front of the big crowd and made towards my trusted humble cameras re-seller a mockery (or should I say, made a fool out of myself)

        • I’m more concerned with AF accuracy, to be honest. I’ve never trusted an LCD for color or exposure – use the histogram – and only barely for sharpness, because frankly it depends a lot on how the camera’s engine processes the image and displays it. I remember a while ago, Olympus interpolated their preview jpegs beyond 5x or 7x magnification, so you could never actually see a 100% pixel view (and consequently it was impossible to judge critical sharpness. Fortunately, they’ve remedied that.)


  1. […] all of the chaos and panic claiming serious ‘issues’ with the new Nikon D800 (see my previous post) – I think it is important for the photographer to serenely rise above the noise (no pun […]

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