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Nikon D800: A Non-Technical Review For Wedding Photography


Last month I had a fire sale on all my Canon gear, EVERYTHING MUST GO. I got rid of my Canon 5DII(330,000 actuations later), 35mm 1.4, 135 F2, 16-35mm 2.8, and my 45mm TS. I’m not a bitter guy and I tend to be friends with my exes (thankfully none of them read photography blogs) and with Canon I feel the same. I didn’t switch because of any issues with Canon’s products, it’s not you it’s me definitely applies here and we can definitely still be friends Canon.  I got a pep talk from Ben Chrisman (famous wedding photography studio in SF) about Nikon and he was madly in love with them. Although he had a bad break up with Canon( I won’t reveal any of details, possibly some cheating involved) he made some great points for the switch and the dude shoots so many weddings I know if he likes a camera it’s a solid camera. Not that he needs a plug from me but anyway check out his site

I was just intrigued with what Nikon was doing with their new D4 and D800. I shoot everything really, you have to be open to all kinds of work living in Southeast Asia and I am so I was looking for a versatile camera. I also like to switch up my lens kit every few years to stay fresh and try new things.

I do a lot of weddings and the D4 seemed like a perfect combo of precise focusing and high fps. It is an amazing camera, but the 6K price tag made me look into the D800. In addition, I do commercial work and the D800 high MP count was enticing but in a lot of ways not necessary. For video though, the D800 also seemed like a better choice.

So I went with the D800 and although I’m a huge advocate of primes lenses I went with a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8. There, I said it; I went all zoom on you.  Don’t get my wrong, I’m also building my prime lens kit back up but for now the 24-70mm offers a lot of range. For wedding coverage in Southeast Asia often my clients choose my one photographer package so I need a camera for the ceremony that can cover a lot of ground and that lens does a great job.  Side note, love the Nikon 24-70mm but no need for that stupid zoom boner thing that they do and the Canon 24-70 does as well. Make it all internal, would you please.

The Good:

The focusing is amazing compared to the 5DII, as it should be, it’s a newer generation of cameras. The files are beautiful and at low light the camera cruises along smoothly at 4000ISO.  It’s extremely easy to use, I hadn’t picked up Nikon in 5 years and I shot a wedding just a few hours after I bought the camera without any issues.

The Bad:

Not really bad just the files are gigantic and for weddings unnecessary. My clients don’t often make billboard size wedding albums, wish they did. My MacBook Pro(computer humble brag) is souped-up with 16gb of RAM and an SSD drive but Lightroom is extremely slow processing the images compared to the 5DII and my workflow has slowed down tremendously. The files are taxing on your hard drive and memory cards. You need fast cards and lots of them. The camera should have an option for smaller RAW files like Canon has so it was a huge disappointment when I found out it doesn’t. That would solve a lot of my worries about memory, get on that Nikon on your next firmware update.

Final Thoughts:

For around 3K the D800 is a beast of a camera and for my other (editorial and commercial) photography the D800 is fantastic and I love it (will do a review on my editorial blog soon). For weddings it’s great too but not the best so I’m going to invest in a used Nikon D3S because of the smaller files and ridiculously fast fps. I’ll use the D3S as my main camera and the D800 with a prime on my 2nd body.

Sorry for the lack of technical details in this review, I’m not a technical guy and I go by feel and ultimately the D800 feels right (that sounded a little perverted but you get the picture) for editorial assignments but not perfect for weddings.

I’ve shot 3 total weddings with this camera so it’s still rather new to me but I have a good feel for it. Below are a few of my favorites so far. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is I rarely miss a moment because of poor focusing, thank you Nikon.












































Canon 5d Mark III review | Wainwright Weddings - [...] note: I was writing this review over the weekend, got sidetracked, and then my good friend Justin Mott published his review of the Nikon D800, after recently switching over from Canon. So I guess this a bit of a point/counterpoint with his [...]

Gregory Harp - Regarding the large file size issue, did you not find the DX mode a viable alternative? This makes the camera similar to the Nikon D7000 I believe, along with its much smaller file sizes. This does of course also bring with it the DX’s 1.5 crop factor (or whatever you wish to call it.) Altough there are downsides to DX it does get your 24-79 f/2.8 out to 105mm on the long end without the f-stop penalty of a TC. (You take a resolution penalty instead, but still end up with a 16+ MP image.)

Naturally, one wouldn’t want to shoot an entire wedding (or any other assignment) in DX it’s there if you need a little extra reach on the lens, or need to squeeze a few more frames on a card. I assume you know all this, so what’s the downside?

admin - Hello Gregory. I don’t like shooting in DX mode because of the crop factor. I only want to shoot in full frame. Canon offers different size options for their RAW files without a crop factor, wish Nikon did the same. The downside of shooting in DX is the crop factor and the downside of the D800 for weddings is the unnecessary large files. The camera is great, but the large file sizes slow down my workflow.
THanks for reading.

James moro - Just picked up two d800′s. Super stoked to use them for my next wedding. Curious what your experiences are with AF-C 3D and AF-C auto (particularly, the camera’s ability to detect faces while using the viewfinder)?

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