The D800E is a fantastic camera. It's absolutely wonderful to use. The only qualms I have thus far are: with an autofocus lens with live view mode, the shutter button focuses the camera, and to my knowlege, cannot be turned off. On the D3s, the AF-ON button works well, and is my prefered method of focusing because then you can be gentle and take your time after focusing by pushing the shutter for mirror up and then for the picture. On the D800e, having this means that you can't take your finger off the shutter and move it around or readjust or anything before having to commit to the shot. This is unfortunate, and I have to resort to purely manual focus, which isn't bad, but adds a few steps to a process that worked perfectly in the D3s. I also don't like how Nikon doesn't offer the same zoom function that the D3s (multithing+thumbwheel). The zoom and zoom out buttons are a bit less user friendly in my experience, with the button and wheel, you can keep your fingers in their natual spots and zoom in and out. With the in/out buttons, you have to change position of your fingers, which can be a bit of a pain in the dark. They're following Canon on this (and I believe some lower end Nikons) and it's one of the things I really liked about Nikon's ergonomics.
Those are my two biggest issues with the new body. Everything else works, or is adjustable/makes sense. OH! I don't like the new video button on the top of the hand grip. It's getting too crowded up there nikon (though I guess it's good for those using video)!
As for performance. It's wonderful. I'm starting to like it better than the D3s in terms of quality. It's more.... much much more than the D3s (with the exception of high ISO's). The large file sizes are... well large. But they offer so much more in terms of quality and depth of editing. Again, these are purely my feelings and opinions.
Be wary, the D800E is no joke. When I use it, I use a tripod, compose carefully, use the best optics I can (100mm zeiss doesn't come off much), focus using liveview, and generally take my time whilst using the bEast. It's a wonderful camera, but my shot discipline is what it needs to be to get the D800E to shine. Little bit of out of focus means you can see that it's out of focus, there's too much detail to go with the ol' "the focus is good enough". No, with this baby, your shit needs to be perfect. When it is though... you reap a GREAT reward.
This camera is for tripod use. I haven't used it off tripod much, mainly because I prefer taking my time, and I shoot a few frames in succession to cover for blinking subjects or odd facial expressions. The files are too big to be all free with crappy shots. I use the D3s for anything in motion. If I have time to set up though... D800E is the answer.
BOTTOM LINE: Buy seven of this camera because you'll want to be able to hand them out to your friends, or for some, toss the other six into the ocean to watch as they writhe in agony. BUY THIS CAMERA.
To start off, you know what to expect from this highly esteemed camera. You've read the reviews as I have and know basically how it works.
I'm just going to give you the important tidbits about what I've found, nearly immediately after I find out. If you haven't read the in-depth reviews, HERE is a good place to start. And if you want a review by the Luminous Landscape (who's used to medium and large format quality) that's not a bunch of numbers, click HERE.
First thing I noticed was the autofocus. I've barely used the camera and this is glaringly obvious. It kept focusing slightly beyond where I thought I had focused it. (For those naysayers out there, my shot discipline isn't perfect 100% of the time, but it's pretty darn good, and probably better than the average user's.)
I popped the 24 f/1.4 on there first thing and started the learning process all over again.
I initially was really disappointed with the camera's high ISO handling (...was chimping and saw ugly ugly noise all over the place) But then I realized that I need to look at it on the computer... so I did. Wow... FANTASTIC 6400 ISO (which is the highest before getting into the "HI-_" settings). I was blown away. Retaining oodles of detail even at that level. I'm impressed, and for those of you who don't know me, I've been shooting with the D3s for a long while.
Class participation: "Let's use our eyeballs!"
Here are two unedited test images, one taken at ISO 100 and one at ISO 6400. What do you think?
They look pretty good/similar huh? Did you know that the first picture was actually the ISO 6400 and the second was at ISO 100?
I was surprised when I opened them up... "Huh? But ISO looked like crap on the back of the screen..." Well I'll certainly be sure to remember to actually test it out fully in the future before making judgements, as it's usually human error that plays games with us.
Here are some of the cropped images that I was using to fine tune my lens, please enjoy the as they're pretty sweet (heh):
In my opinion, ISO 6400 is very usable! It's also got that film grain feel that I loved about my D3s. High ISO's don't look like a pile of... decomposing leaves... anymore! They've actually got a nice feel/look to them reminiscent of those outdated analog sensors.
I shoot RAW. The darn files usually allow you to drag detail kicking and screaming from the shadows, but watch the blackness in the tent as I boost exposure nearly five stops inside the door. I've never seen anything quite capable of pulling detail from the dark so easily as this:
Original: 24mm @f/4, 15sec, ISO 100.
And the edited:
@f/5.6 (no diffraction)
@ f/16 (diffraction as softened details)
It's minimal yet still noticeable, and I know I'm always straining to get that last little bit of resolution.
Another thing I noticed about handling is that the finger grip is much shallower than that on the D3s.
As I use it, I will continue to add my findings... To Be Continued.
Bonus question: Did you folks notice the colors of the middle row of lights in the first photograph? Why are they different colors than in the photograph below it? If you want a hint, it has something indirectly related to the ISO used.