Nikon D800E: Studio Editorial: The Wanted: 100% crops

Nikon D800E: Studio Editorial: The Wanted: 100% crops


If you happen to walk by a newsstand, check out the 10 page story in the current issue of Soma magazine. My first editorial with the Nikon D800E. A few of you have emailed asking how it compares to the 5D mark III
more after the break


100% crop



Both cameras are fantastic and will satisfy even the most demanding users. No need to switch systems. I much prefer to think of the D800E as a medium format replacement rather then comparing it to the 5D mark III. The D800E shines in the studio, insane resolution AND high ISO, something I could have only dreamed of with medium format gear. This makes the D800E truly unique and gives us lots of flexibility for lighting. For this particular shoot I used fluorescent lighting and snapped a few video clips. Medium format would require a lot more lighting power or studio strobes. Personally, I prefer continuous lighting for a softer feel, especially for editorials and beauty. Even with strobes, the ability to shoot at higher ISO has advantages. Smaller and lighter power packs without sacrificing control over depth of field and faster recycling times. The D800E is my medium format replacement and puts a smile on my face every time I reach for it.

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7 thoughts on “Nikon D800E: Studio Editorial: The Wanted: 100% crops

  1. Michael

    Yes, very helpful, many thanks. Have you compared the AF of these two cameras to the 6D? Wondering if that has the same AF as the 5D2 or whether it improves on it.

    Again, my thanks,


  2. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Michael, I found AF performance indistinguishable btw the D800/E and 5D3 (on paper the 5D3 has the edge) and both are light years ahead of the 5D2. I recently shot in a very dark night club without af assist beam with the D800E/f4 zoom combo and had no problems, it was so dark I had to activate the focus point illumination. Hope this helps.

  3. Michael

    Hello Mike;

    Thanks for your review here. I am moving from Canon after fighting with the MarkII for two years – horrid low light focus and files while clean and all that I really never loved – I am seriously looking at the D800e. Initially I thought the D600 would be the answer but two bodies in a row with repeated sensor spots had me change my thinking to the D800e. A student lent me her D800 for a week and I was surprised at how undependable the AF was…but the files were amazing when the focus got it right. Do you have similar experience outside the studio? Even after calibrating the lens the AF was not as reliable as I would have expected from this high-end Nikon. Since you shoot both the MarkIII and the D800e, how does the AF compare in the real world (outside the control of the studio)?

    Thanks again!


  4. Aiden


    thanks so much for the input. i was in fact planning to shoot raw with nikon or canon (though many of the jpegs from the fuji are quite excellent, i still shoot raw with it). i have been leaning toward the d800 (probably not the E, but who knows). was thinking of just going prime on the wide end (the 24mm 1.4, which is supposed to be just wonderful), but will consider those zooms you mentioned. i have been surprised to hear that the new 24-85 is good enough for the d800, but that’s worth considering too. definitely would go with the 85mm 1.8. i would be fine with those two primes to start (the 24 and the 85).

    i have been working with lightroom, and i have zero plans to go to full photoshop. i’m the kind of guy who would rather have someone else do the processing work. i am planning to try “portraiture 2″ for touch-ups since it sounds easy and not too invasive or over-processed. still, it’s reassuring to hear that you haven’t felt the need to do a lot of polishing. thom hogan and others warned about the high resolution for portraits. you mention that these models are not a fair basis for judgment. your street portraits looked very good though. i suppose that, one way or another, i can make it work.

    thanks again for the reply, for your work, and for your service to the photographic community. i’m sure you know how many readers you have. your blog and your work are much appreciated.

  5. mike.kobal Post author

    Aiden: since you love the X Pro 1 I can safely encourage you to get the D800 :). I had both for a while, D800/D800E and decided to keep the E. I used to shoot medium format in the studio, however, I much prefer speedy DSLR’s for my shooting style. The models in this spread are very young with almost perfect skin, probably not fair to compare to standard portrait sessions. Since I also have a 5Dmk3 I can tell you this: If you shoot raw the D800/E has the edge over the 5D3, especially in the studio and for landscapes. If you shoot jpeg’s Canon does a much better job, you really have to shoot raw with the D800/E to get the best out of it and it is totally worth it. If you are not locked into a system with lenses, I would suggest go with the Nikon, for landscapes, you can get much better wide angle lenses, 14-24mm, or the great Tokina 16 to 28mm on a budget (almost as good as the 14 24mm for a fraction of the price), for portraits the fantastic 85mm 1.8g and the new 24 85mm 3.5-4.5 VR G compact zoom as a standard lens.
    As for portraits and retouching, I retouch in ps, nothing too crazy, and it isn’t too time consuming, if the shot calls for touch ups, a low resolution sensor isn’t the answer. I personally prefer higher res, because it is easier to retouch and downsize to the final size after you are done. Hope this helps!

  6. Aiden


    thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. i have a fuji x-pro for a take-it-everywhere camera. love it. trying to decide between 5d mark iii and d800 for landscape and studio work. some of the studio work is portraiture. i know . . . wish i could have 3 cameras. or 4.

    there have been suggestions by some reviewers of the d800 that the resolution is overkill for portraits. i know that people use medium format for portraits, but maybe the pixel size is kinder to human skin.

    your portraits here and on the other d800 portrait post look very good. are you seeing any problems? should we feel safe getting a d800 for portraits? do you use software (something like portraiture 2) to help even out skin? or are you touching up by hand? i would prefer not to go through lengthy retouching. i would not like an overly processed look either, but have read enthusiastic reviews about some of the plug-ins for portrait processing.

    i appreciate any thoughts you might have. the camera rental place here still doesn’t have any d800’s or 5d mark iii’s for me to use. and there is just so much craziness in forums. not easy to find trustworthy voices. thanks!

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