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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