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In Praise of an Old Workhorse

May 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

IMG_6296IMG_6296 The Nikon D800 camera was introduced in February of 2012. I bought mine in October of that same year. Since then, I have made over 56,000 photos on my D800. It has been all over the world with me. It accompanied me on the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2015. You can see from the photo below that it has definitely been around the block.

IMG_6297IMG_6297 Here is the amazing thing. While this camera design is over five years old, the D800 is still number 7 on the DxOMark rankings of digital camera performance, coming in with an overall score of 95 versus 98 for the leader. Digital years are like dog years, so in digital years, this camera is no young punk. While image quality is only one measure of camera performance, it's a mighty important one. Depending on what you shoot, arguably it is the most important measure.

For me, the D800 is like a pair of old jeans. It fits me, nice and comfortably. I can make any adjustment I need without having to look up from the viewfinder. I know this camera like the back of my hands. That makes it possible for the camera to take backstage when I'm out shooting. I know how this camera is going to respond in pretty much any shooting situation.

I am not the type of photographer who chases the latest and greatest camera gear. Don't get me wrong, I have excellent gear and plenty of it, but it all has a purpose and gets used extensively. If I'm not using a piece of kit, I sell it. I've just done that with a couple teleconverters that never found their way into my shooting style.

Nikon launched the successor to the D800, the D810, three years ago. For me, there wasn't enough improvement in that camera to warrant the upgrade. Nikon is rumored to be coming out with the D810 replacement sometime this year (the D820 or D850). Supposedly it will be a forty-some megapixel camera and have the autofocus system from Nikon's top-of-the-line D5. I have no idea whether I will upgrade. We'll just have to wait and see. I suspect if I do upgrade, I will still keep my D800.

_STD0856_STD0856 The idea for this blog post came to me while I was out hiking recently in the Big Woods, on a day of solid rain. I've learned that it's better to leave the D800 in the elements rather than putting it in a bag to protect it from the rain. Condensation is not the friend of electronics, and putting a wet camera in a plastic bag is a surefire way to get condensation. I learned this the hard way on the Camino. My D800 handled these tough conditions like the champion that it is. While I don't punish my gear, I also don't coddle it. When I got back in the car, I dried the D800 off with a bandana that I carry for that purpose (and for wiping lenses). It continues to work just fine.

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This outing is a great example of what I love about the Nikon D800. It is tough as nails and puts out some of the most beautiful image files I've ever seen. There is tremendous value in the melding of the photographer's camera with the photographer's vision. That's what I've found in the Nikon D800.

 


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